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Taiwan Health Insurance


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Some of Asia’s best culinary delights can be found on the island of Taiwan, nestled in the Pacific Ocean within a string of East Asian islands and off the coast of mainland China. Described as similar in shape to a sweet potato, this largely mountainous and densely populated island officially belongs to and is governed by the People’s Republic of China. It is well-developed and has a stable democracy. In contrast to typecast images of crowded cities filled with electronics factories, this island nation with an estimated population of 23 million, (CIA, 2012) also showcases lush forests, impressive mountain ranges, stunning national parks, hot springs and is highly regarded for its cuisine. Taiwan’s scenic wonders also provide the necessary attributes for outdoor activities, from hiking, climbing, and mountain biking, to scuba diving, rafting, sailing and windsurfing. Home to the second tallest skyscraper in the world, Taipei is the vibrant center of commerce and culture, and seat of government. Taiwan experiences a tropical, marine climate, sweltering above 30°C during summer from June to September however moderate temperatures are enjoyed in the mountainous regions. The tonal languages of Taiwanese, Hakka and Mandarin are spoken on the island, along with other Asian and Austronesian dialects.

Taiwan Health Care and Insurance

The Ministry for Health is responsible for managing the delivery of health services to Taiwan’s residents through hospitals, clinics and priority care centers. The standard of facilities and quality of care in public facilities is considered reasonable, with well-trained physicians on staff and state-of-the-art equipment available. The health sector is cited by outside observers as consisting of the right balance of public and private medical facilities, the latter of which are widely available, but considerably more expensive. All legal residents are eligible for publicly funded treatment under a National Health Insurance plan (NHI). The system is financed by the government with co-payments making up a small portion of funding. Out-of-pocket expenses range depending on income levels and medical condition, however the average cost of roughly USD2 per consultation at a dedicated NHI medical provider, makes healthcare in Taiwan highly affordable. The low cost of treatment allows residents to make the most of Taiwan’s health insurance plan, resulting in a tendency to repeatedly access treatment for minor ailments, leading to a slowdown in the provision of services and putting pressure on personnel resources, with doctors seeing as many as 30 patients an hour. Long wait times have ensued and waiting areas are often crowded.

Frequently quoted as a measure of the quality of life in a given country, estimated life expectancy has gradually risen in Taiwan over recent decades, currently sitting at 75 years for men and 81 years for women (CIA, 2012), comparatively higher than mainland China and many other nations in the Asian region. This is widely attributed to the well-established health system and insurance structure, which in addition to covering inpatient and outpatient procedures, physical therapy, rehabilitation services and at-home care, also covers Traditional Chinese Medicine, including acupuncture, medical massage and herbs. Surveys show that locals are highly satisfied with the quality and provision of care.

Another indicator of health conditions within countries is the infant mortality rate, which in Taiwan is comparable to that of advanced countries at an estimated 5.1 deaths for every 1,000 live births (CIA, 2012). This positions Taiwan higher than the United States, but just shy of Canada’s rates. There are a number of emerging concerns with the health system however, such as an ageing population, which is expected to add significant pressure on health resourcing as the number of elderly is projected to double within the next twenty years. The low premium costs of the NHI are being cited by the Taiwanese government as a disaster waiting to happen, as inflationary pressures leave the Ministry of Health with large budget deficits to fund. The announcement of premium increases to help strengthen the health system’s revenue has been met with significant disapproval from the populace, with the majority unwilling to accept changes to the premium structure of the NHI. This has prompted many citizens to turn to private Taiwan health insurance, facilitating earlier access to treatment through avoiding wait times associated with NHI medical providers and receiving a higher standard of treatment via private facilities.

Foreign nationals with work and resident permits are eligible to receive coverage under the Taiwan health insurance scheme however it is important to consider that some aspects of insurance policies which foreign nations sometimes rely upon, such as repatriation and medical evacuation clauses, are not included in the coverage. This highlights the need for international medical insurance should a medical condition necessitate repatriation. Short-term visitors are ineligible to access publicly funded care and are therefore exposed to expensive treatment through private medical providers if without international coverage. Those who require medical attention while visiting Taiwan will need to show proof of insurance, or be prepared to pay the cost of hospitalization and/or treatment at the time of receiving such care. Payment at the time of treatment is expected by all medical providers from those not covered under the national scheme.

Taiwan travel   Taiwan's medical insurance industry is a fast paced ever evolving market however our staff are experts and at your disposal.

Expatriates and Travelers in Taiwan

Taiwan Travel Insurance Concerns

Vaccine-preventable diseases such as Japanese Encephalitis, Typhoid and Hepatitis A & B are known to occur in Taiwan, and as such the US Centre for Disease Control recommends inoculations before travel. Routine childhood vaccinations are also recommended for those individuals not previously immunized. In Taiwan’s tropical southern regions, mosquito-borne Dengue Fever occurs prompting advisories to endorse avoidance measures to prevent bites, which include using insect repellant at all times and exposing as little skin as possible. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is common throughout Taiwan with serious outbreaks occurring periodically, usually beginning in March/April and peaking in May, however cases sometimes continue until October. Children under the age of ten years are mostly affected although it is not unusual for adults to present at medical facilities with cases of HFMD, which is characterized by fever, along with blisters and rashes on buttocks, hands and feet. Frequent hand-washing is recommended along with following normal hygiene precautions, as the disease is spread via direct contact with throat and nose discharges and through fecal matter of infected individuals. Due to the difficulty for foreigners to access health care without membership to the Taiwan health insurance system, international medical insurance should be purchased to cover the expenses associated with treatment through private facilities on the island, especially as payment or proof of insurance may be expected prior to treatment, including in emergencies. Ambulatory services can be reached by dialing 119.

Taiwan’s major cities are congested and can be hazardous for road users. Motorcycles and scooters weave dangerously through traffic, adding to the already unsafe and reckless practices of vehicle-users. The guiding principal for road users is that the right-of-way belongs to the larger vehicle, highlighting the need for caution from pedestrians as drivers take right-of-way over people. Driving conditions on typically narrow and winding mountainous roads often deteriorate after heavy rains and roads can become impassable. This is especially so during the typhoon season, which extends from May to November and when landslides and flooding are common. ‘Typhoon days’ can be declared at short notice by local authorities, communicated via local radio and television stations. In the event of an emergency, English-language updates are available on an international community radio station, frequency FM 100.7. The provision of services can be disrupted with an approaching typhoon, and flights can often be delayed or suspended. Travel advisories therefore recommend expatriates remain informed of regional weather forecasts and follow any instructions provided by Taiwan’s emergency officials. Accommodation evacuation plans should be reviewed and travel documents carried or secured in a waterproof location.

Taiwan Expat Health Insurance

Those seeking medical attention in Taiwan will find a reasonable level of care in the major cities, as state-of-the-art medical equipment is available and physicians are well trained. However treatment can be expensive for those not eligible to join the national scheme, as doctors and hospitals often expect payment prior to administering medical services, including in cases of emergency care. Comprehensive insurance coverage is available through International Medical Insurance and providing a range of benefits including emergency medical evacuation, repatriation, hospital and doctors’ fees, and costs associated with maternity services. To ensure the cost of medical care in Taiwan does not result in financial burden, make contact with an International Medical Insurance consultant for a free quotation.