Government eyes deregulation to solve aging population issue
By Ted Chen, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- In order to meet challenges brought on by Taiwan's aging population, the government is eyeing a proposal that would allow life insurance carriers to offer long-term care services for the elderly.
September 22, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
The proposal would also permit carriers to provide conventional insurance policies for senior citizens. The insurance industry responded to the Financial Supervisory Commission's announcement with resounding approval and zeal.
Taiwan's aging population is a looming issue, with statistics indicating that in 2011 there were as many as 670,000 elderly citizens requiring long-term care. The figure is poised to balloon to 1.31 million by 2031, according to estimates by the Council for Economic Planning and Development (經建會).
Of Taiwan's major insurance carriers, the Shin Kong Group (新光) and Cathay Financial Holding Group (國泰) are particularly well-equipped to take on the endeavor of offering long-term care services for the elderly, as both enterprises have operations in hospital and medical care, in addition to financial services and banking.
Most notably, Shin Kong chairman Eugene Wu (吳東進) had earlier pledged an investment commitment of NT$10 billion to the Financial Supervisory Commission contingent on approval of the deregulation initiative. Wu had stated that he plans to learn from well-established precedents, saying that much can be gleaned from the experimental programs in elderly care in Japan.
The Cathay Group, meanwhile, stated that the addition of elderly care to their portfolio will greatly enhance the level of services it is able to provide to its insurance policy subscribers while at the same time elevating the company's competitive edge in the market and assisting the government in promoting solutions for Taiwan's aging population.
The Life Insurance Association of the R.O.C., however, stated that deregulation of elderly care may face opposition from civic organizations and foundations. As current regulations stipulate that only foundations and civic organizations may operate elderly care facilities, the move may be seen by some as an encroachment from business enterprises, said the industry association. The industry association stated that in order to avoid contention, it is pushing for insurance carriers to bear a 35-percent stake in elderly care operations managed collaboratively by foundations and civic organizations.