Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate, Hou You-yi, proposed a new healthcare policy today, advocating full healthcare subsidies for seniors aged 65 and above, as well as indigenous elders aged 55 to 64 who are below the wealth threshold. Minister of Health and Welfare Hsueh Jui-yuan commented on Hou’s proposal, citing necessary budgeting over financial resources and the potential generational wealth divide between the youth and the elderly that the policy would cause.

According to Hou’s proposal, the wealth threshold for people eligible for full healthcare subsidies is set at a 20% comprehensive income tax rate, which is expected to benefit approximately 4 million elderly citizens, resulting in an estimated total budget of NT$160 billion if the policy is implemented.

Hou explained that during his visits to some provinces, he was told by some citizens that there is a discrepancy in healthcare subsidies between the city and rural areas of Taiwan. For instance, complete healthcare subsidies are available to the elderly in Keelung and the six major municipalities, but not in the central and southern districts of Taiwan. In these areas, only elderly individuals aged 70 or above with low to moderate incomes are eligible for full healthcare subsidies.

In a prompt response to this proposal, Minister Hsueh commented that these policies are already being implemented at the provincial level and are not entirely new. If these policies were to be centralized, careful consideration would be needed regarding whether there would be sufficient financial resources to support them.

Regarding the potential financial impact, Hsueh estimated that, based on the current implementation, the additional financial burden on the central government would not be substantial, likely increasing by several billion dollars. However, if all local government subsidies were to be centralized and funded by the central government, the final financial burden would be higher than this initial estimate.

Hsueh highlighted the demographic shift, with a growing elderly population in Taiwan, coupled with a declining number of contributors paying into the healthcare system and fewer individuals paying various taxes.

Hsueh also pointed out that currently, 40% of healthcare users are aged 60 and above, expressing concerns over future healthcare funding being paid largely by the younger working class and thus potentially exacerbating their financial burden and creating wealth gap between the two generations in Taiwan.

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TNL Editor: Kim Chan (@thenewslensintl)

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