Health insurance in Taiwan

Would you like to expatriate to Taiwan or simply spend some time there? But would you like to know more about Taiwan’s healthcare system? You’ve come to the right place: our experts will answer all your questions in the following article.

How does the Taiwanese healthcare system work?

Taiwan’s healthcare system is undoubtedly one of the best in the world. This system comprises a public and a private healthcare sector. The public sector is based on a single-payer model. This means that all healthcare is managed by a public body, providing access to care for the entire population of the country. Since 1995, the country has had a system of universal coverage. National Health Insurance (NHI) when 40% of the population had no health coverage or insurance. The island government, through the NHI, has succeeded in combining universal coverage with quality of care and reasonable costs. In particular, it has enabled children, the elderly and the unemployed to benefit from medical coverage.

Social security in Taiwan

By 2022, NHI will cover over 99% of the population. It offers virtually free medical care with a low co-payment to combat abuse of the free service. The cost of a medical consultation with a general practitioner is around 100 NTD or $2.5 USD. This system covers a very wide range of specialties, from acupuncture to dental care. The NHI also reimburses healthcare costs in the private sector. This gives patients a certain degree of autonomy, as they are free to choose the hospitals and doctors in which they wish to be treated.

A fully digitalized healthcare system in Taiwan

Taiwan’s healthcare system is fully digitized, all patient and healthcare information is transparent and centralized, and every Taiwanese has a smart card (a NHI smart card containing all their medical records). Most of Taiwan’s infrastructure is privately owned but more or less government-regulated, and there is no price competition. Taiwanese are also free to take out supplementary insurance with the NHI, which would provide better coverage for certain specific treatments that are costly and not sufficiently covered by the NHI.

How do I consult a general practitioner or specialist in Taiwan?

Taiwan’s healthcare facilities are home to many doctors from the best universities in Europe and North America. They also haveexcellent local and Chinese doctors and specialists. You can book a consultation with a general practitioner online on the website of the hospital or medical establishment you wish to visit. You can also go directly to a healthcare facility to request a medical consultation.

However, you may have to wait your turn. It’s easy to change your GP if you need to, as all your medical data and history will be recorded on your smart card. In this way, the new doctor can quickly identify your profile and take care of you as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The cost of a consultation with a general practitioner is around 100 NTD or $2.5 USD if you are affiliated to the NHI. You will pay the co-payment due at the time of the consultation and your coverage will reimburse you afterwards. Otherwise, if you are not eligible for Taiwanese universal coverage, or not yet, you are on a WHV for example, or are facing coverage waiting periods, consultation fees will be higher. To consult a specialist doctor, you don’t have to go through a general practitioner; you can book an appointment directly with them, via the website of the medical establishment in which they practice, or go to their premises and ask for a consultation.

Pharmacies in Taiwan

There are several types of medical establishments where you can buy medicines. There are standard pharmacies where you’ll find generic drugs that you can pick up without a prescription. In ” drugstores ” like Watsons or Cosmed, which sell everything from cigarettes and newspapers to clothes and a few generic drugs.
There are also traditional pharmacies. Specializing in Chinese medicine, they offer medicines and remedies based on plants, herbs, animal parts and minerals that are classified by the Taiwanese authorities as medicinal ingredients. Last but not least, you will be able to pick up a large number of prescription drugs directly from the pharmacy of the hospital where you have been treated.

Before you leave your home country, be sure to take note of the ingredients in the original medicines, so that you can find them in the generic versions available in Taiwan. You can also search directly for the Taiwanese equivalents of the drugs you usually take in your home country.

Dental care in Taiwan

Taiwan has some of the best dental clinics and facilities in the world. You’ll find dentists practicing in hospitals and clinics. The best dentists usually work in renowned hospitals. Getting a consultation with them takes a little longer, but the quality of care is excellent.
As dental practitioners go, they’re all good. You don’t have to go to a good hospital or a reputable dentist for conventional dental care. Standard dental consultations with scaling are covered by Taiwan’s universal health insurance scheme. However, heavy operations such as implants or crowns are more expensive and less well covered by the NHI. In Taiwan, a dental implant costs around $1000 USD.
Cosmetic dental treatment will never be covered by the NHI, except in exceptional cases.

Example of dental care covered by the NHI:

  • Ultrasonic cleaning of the gingival sulcus: 100 – 250 NTD with IHN / 800 – 2000 NTD without IHN
  • X-ray: 120 – 250 NTD with IHN / 500 – 1000 NTD without IHN

Crowns are not covered by the NHI.

The emergency department in Taiwan

If you are in an emergency situation and need to contact an ambulance, dial 119. You’ll be put through to an English-speaking interface. After explaining your situation, you will be picked up by an ambulance and taken to a hospital with an emergency department.

Clinics and hospitals in Taiwan

In Taiwan, the first level of care is the clinic. There is no general practitioner working at his practice. Some clinics are specialized, for example in pediatrics, ophthalmology, dentistry, etc. In clinics, you can consult general practitioners and specialists. You’ll usually visit a clinic once you’ve identified the treatment you need.
The second level of care is provided by hospitals and large medical centers in major cities. In these establishments, you’ll be able to consult a wider range of specialists than in clinics, and will be guided towards the treatment or hospitalization you need. The first step is to consult a general practitioner, who will identify your health problem and refer you to the appropriate service.

Paramedical care in Taiwan

In Taiwan, you’ll find numerous clinics specializing in paramedical care. You can book an appointment directly via the clinic’s website.
As far as orthoptists are concerned, it’s advisable to find out the price of frames plus lenses before committing yourself. Indeed, in tourist areas, the average price of a pair of glasses will be much higher than in local neighborhoods, such as student districts or night markets. You can find very good pairs of glasses for 2,500 NTD in popular, non-touristy areas, just as you can pay 10,000 NTD in touristy areas.
Physiotherapists can be found in many private clinics and hospitals in Taiwan. There are associations of physiotherapists in Taiwan recognized by World Physiotherapy, such as The Taiwan Physical Therapy Association, which has around 1,200 members. More than 7,500 physiotherapists are currently practising in France. You can go to a clinic or hospital for your sessions with a physiotherapist, but there are also physiotherapists who come to your home for your sessions.
Worth knowing:

  • 10% of physiotherapists are covered by the NHI;
  • 90% of physiotherapists are not covered by the NHI.

Being pregnant in Taiwan, from pregnancy to childbirth

Taiwan is a safe country. The cost of living is relatively low and it’s an excellent place to spend your pregnancy and give birth. Taiwan boasts the world’s best medical infrastructure and the most highly qualified doctors from the world’s top universities. You can take a urine pregnancy test at any drugstore in the country.

Which practitioner will monitor your pregnancy in Taiwan?

Your pregnancy can be monitored by an obstetrician or gynecologist in a clinic or hospital. Once your pregnancy has been confirmed by your doctor, you will be issued with a maternal health booklet recording all your pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. If you are working during your pregnancy, your employer is obliged to grant you 5 days’ paid leave for check-ups, in accordance with Taiwan’s Labor Standards Act.

Where can you go for pregnancy monitoring?

Clinics are smaller and more numerous. The likelihood of there being one near you is higher. Hospitals are larger, but may be a little further from where you live. However, hospitals are less expensive than clinics. Most doctors in Taiwan speak English, so it won’t be too difficult to get you to understand and communicate your pregnancy symptoms. We recommend that you choose your doctor rather than the place where you wish to give birth.

The specifics of hospital pregnancy in Taiwan

At the same time, you’ll have your own space in the hospital parking lot. You’ll have at least one pregnancy check-up a month for the first 8 months, and the first 10 appointments will be paid for by the NHI. For more than 10 appointments, examinations will cost you around 300 NTD (about $10). From the ninth week, you may be asked to undergo a screening test for Down syndrome. These tests are not covered by the NHI and will cost you between 1000 and 2000 NTD. The cost of an epidural delivery averages 8,000 NTD, or around $270 USD. Epidurals are not covered by the NHI. It’s likely that you won’t be able to attend the birth. Taiwanese medicine is certainly one of the world’s most advanced, if not the most advanced. However, it is still very traditional. Find out in advance whether or not the clinic or hospital where you are to be cared for allows your partner to be present during the birth, as this can be a decisive factor in the choice of facility and doctor.

Only rooms shared with three other patients will be reimbursed by the NHI. A semi-private room (2 people) costs around NTD 1,500 per night, while a private room costs around NTD 3,000 per night. You’ll need to stay 3 nights to rest. Meals cost an average of 250 NTD.

Taiwanese health insurance card (NHI Card)

Once you’ve joined the NHI, you’ll need an NHI Card. This card proves that you are covered by universal health insurance, and you’ll need to show it every time you visit a hospital or clinic.
The chip embedded in the card stores records of your last six medical visits, information on catastrophic illnesses, records of all important tests and medication information.
This card stores records of medication use and previous examinations. In this way, doctors will be able to consult previous recordings so as not to duplicate prescriptions or examinations. This reduces medical waste and contributes to patient safety and improved healthcare.

What vaccinations should I get before moving to Taiwan?

Before you expatriate to Taiwan, it is necessary that your vaccination record is up to date for :

  • Hepatitis A and B;
  • Japanese encephalitis;
  • Rabies;
  • Typhoid.

Taiwan poses no risk of malaria

Why take out private international health insurance in Taiwan?

Taking out private health insurance in Taiwan can be advantageous for certain profiles. It’s very important that you are covered for your entire stay in Taiwan, especially for emergency care in the first few months. It is advisable to take out private international health insurance for at least the first 6 months prior to your arrival in France. Our experts recommend that you take out a private international health insurance policy for your entire stay in Taiwan, for better international coverage. What’s more, unlike NHI, you’ll benefit from full coverage for all operations and major treatments, with no out-of-pocket expenses. It’s also advisable to take out travel insurance if you don’t qualify for the NHI, as healthcare in Taiwan is extremely expensive. Out-of-pocket expenses can quickly become substantial and destroy your vacation budget.

Which private international health insurance should I take out in Taiwan, and for whom?

  • If you are applying for a WHV in Taiwan, you will be asked to take out health insurance for the entire duration of your WHV. We recommend GoldStart insurance, tailored to your profile if you’re planning a WHV.
  • As an employee, entrepreneur or digital nomad, it is advisable to take out private health insurance at least for the start of your expatriation. What’s more, if you need to travel abroad a lot, Gold Expat insurance will cover you for all your trips abroad.
  • It’s highly recommended that you take out travel insurance such as Travel Pass, so that you’re taken care of as quickly as possible in the event of a problem, and don’t spoil your vacation. What’s more, if you’re going on a road-trip, Travel Pass international health insurance will accompany you wherever you go!
  • As an international student, you have two options:
    – If your stay is less than 6 months, you must take out private international health insurance to cover your entire stay;
    – If you are going away for more than 6 months: you are eligible for the NHI, but only after 6 months’ residence in the country. The Taiwanese government requires you to take out private international health insurance for the first 6 months prior to your arrival.
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