As the controversy continues, a proposal has been made to implement a food safety and health surcharge on imported American pork and beef. The National Health Insurance Committee will meet on Sept. 25 to discuss it.
American pork and 30-plus month beef containing leanness-enhancing agent Ractopamine will flood Taiwan's market starting next year. There has been a public outcry against the government's decision to lift the import ban on meat containing the substance, and many say the long-term impact of Ractopamine ingestion will create an even heavier burden on the flailing national health insurance system. Civic representatives are calling for a "food safety and health" surcharge on imported American meat that can be used to shore up the health insurance system. The National Health Insurance Committee will meet on the 25th to discuss the proposal.
If this food safety issue turns into health issues, ultimately this will lead to a sick population that will require even more medical care. This obviously means higher medical expenditures.
Consumer group representative and committee member Wu Jung-ta opposes this. Wu says a food safety and health surcharge differs from the tobacco health surcharge because people have the right to decide whether to smoke but the decision to lift the import ban was made unilaterally by the government. Wu also says taxing importers will inevitably result in higher prices and consumers will be the one to foot the bill.
Citizens have a passive role in this. They will be harmed without their knowledge. They are not being given the right to choose (what to eat). Therefore, a food safety and health surcharge would be extremely unfair to citizens.
The national health insurance system has been in the red for three years now, with total losses of NT$26.6 billion in 2019 and the reserve fund only able to sustain operations for less than six weeks. A premium hike at the end of the year therefore seems inevitable. The National Health Insurance Administration says it will respect the committee's decision and further discussions will be held after the meeting on the 25th.