The Legislative Yuan passed the draft amendments to partial articles of the "Farmer Health Insurance Act"(FHIA) and the draft amendments to Article 3-1 of the "Farmer Pension Act" (FPA) on Dec. 7th, allowing young farmers who return to hometown and engage in agricultural work after serving short term military services may participate in both social welfare programs. Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-Chung, expressed his gratitude to legislators of the ruling and opposition parties and the public for their support in ensuring that veteran young farmers enjoy the corresponding occupational social insurance and their right to have a carefree retirement life.
The COA explained that Article 5, Item 1 and 2 of the FHIA stipulate that those who have received the old-aged benefits of other related social insurances may not join in Farmers’ Health Insurance program (hereafter “FHI”); Article 20, Item 1 of the Implementation Rules of FHIA further states that the above social benefits include military personnel insurance retirement benefits. Therefore, those who receive military personnel insurance retirement benefits are excluded from FHI regardless of the length of their military service. However, in order to keep the military young and strong, service terms and discharges have the characteristics of being generally short and prompt. Moreover, a service term is also subject to various regulations determined by the law such as years and age. Generally, retirement age in the military is younger than that of laborers, public officials and education employees. According to statistics, the average retirement age for military personnel who have served less than 20 years and have not received their pensions is 27 years old.
The COA stated that in order to encourage veterans (who have served shortly in the military and are not eligible to receive lifetime monthly pensions) to engage in agricultural production and employment, the said amendments permit them to be included into both FHIA and FPA. In addition to relevant articles, amendments to related rights and interests of farmers have also been carried out. The key points include:
- Veterans under the age of 50 who have not received the monthly pension or retirement pay under Article 23, Paragraph 1, Subparagraph 2, of the Act of Military Service for Officers and Non-commissioned Officers of the Armed Forces can still apply for FHI when they return home to work in agriculture.
- If the insured person's own farmland for joining FHI is expropriated or has been purchased at a negotiated price by the acquisition agency before expropriation, thus resulting in land area not meeting the conditions of the insurance, the insured person can continue to join FHI for a specific period of time. However, those who have reached the age of 65 and have accumulated 15 years of insurance coverage are not subject to the restriction of that specific period of insurance renewal.
- The statute of limitations for the insured person’s right of claim for insurance payment shall be extended from 2 years to 5 years.
- 4. In order to prevent farmers from being denied payment for procreation due to work change that result in insufficient insurance participation period before childbirth or premature delivery stated by the regulation, the minimum insurance participation period requirement is abolished.
- Other amendments have taken into consideration relevant articles of the Labor Insurance Act and the National Pension Act to make the FHI system more comprehensive.
The COA emphasized that the implementation date of the amendments to the FHIA concerning the participation of veterans in FHI will be determined by the Executive Yuan. Currently, the COA is actively engaging in relevant preparatory works with the Ministry of National Defense, the Veterans Affairs Council, and the Bureau of Labor Insurance, Ministry of Labor, so that military veteran young farmers can participate in FHI and farmer pension program as soon as possible.