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Your guide to Taiwan’s healthcare system and private health insurance

Whether you are a traveler or expat planning to work or stay in Taiwan, this exclusive guide from Pacific Prime will breakdown everything you need to know about the country’s healthcare system and illustrate the importance of securing private health insurance. Read on to learn more, or obtain a no-obligation, free quote below.

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Overview of the healthcare system in Taiwan

The current healthcare system in Taiwan was introduced in 1995 and has flourished over the years. Healthcare in the country is affordable and is generally user-friendly. Expats and foreign travelers moving to or visiting the country will be well catered to by highly skilled medical personnel in state-of-the-art hospital facilities. Remarkably, facilities at both private and public hospitals offer a high standard of care and treatment. However, private hospitals are the better option, due to excellent specialists and shorter waiting times than public hospitals. As such, securing private health insurance will be able to access these benefits.

Public healthcare in Taiwan

In Taiwan, public health insurance is managed by the National Health Insurance (NHI) Administration. It is compulsory for all Taiwanese residents, which includes foreigners working in the country.

Expats and their family members using one of Taiwan’s public health facilities are given access to subsidized medical care. Services offered at public hospitals are broad, and cover everything from traditional medicine to emergency care and treatment.

Although public hospitals are world-class in their delivery of healthcare and essential treatment, the problem is that patients seeking treatment may experience long waiting times at public facilities.

Private healthcare in Taiwan

As with many well-developed countries, the problems experienced in public facilities can limit the healthcare experience received by patients. Many expats rely on public facilities because of their heavily subsidized medical care, however a large number of expats and their family members also utilize Taiwan’s high-quality private hospitals and facilities.

The good news for expats living in Taiwan is that many urban private hospital settings specifically reach out to the expat market. These facilities are staffed with English-speaking doctors and nurses. With no language barrier, expats can feel at home and comfortable, knowing that they will be receiving the best healthcare

The downside to this experience is that it is expensive, so expats looking to make use of private healthcare are recommended to secure comprehensive health insurance. Plans can be tailored to include cover for the entire family as well.

Healthcare for expats living and working in Taiwan 

Most foreigners in Taiwan make use of government-sponsored healthcare through the National Health Insurance scheme. It is compulsory for expats living in Taiwan for more than four months or those that hold an Alien Resident Card (ARC) to join the NHI. 

Expats and family members that arrive within the first few weeks are likely to be enrolled in the system by their employer. In normal circumstances, employees make contributions from their salaries. For family members, dependents, self-employed residents, and students, the process is different, as they have to register at a hospital within 4 months of obtaining their residence status. During this period, especially before authorities confirm that individuals are fully registered in the NHI scheme, it is recommended to take out private health insurance. If in the worst-case scenario, an accident were to occur, resulting in hospitalization, then there is comfort in knowing that any medical expenses will be covered and paid for by the insurer.

How is the NHI funded?

The NHI is funded by employee taxes and government subsidiaries, but expats should be aware that there are still co-payments and limited coverage for certain types of care and treatments. More so, if an expat or their family member falls ill, the capped coverage provided by the NHI may not cover all of their medical expenses. This risk of having to pay directly out-of-pocket is where having additional private health insurance is most useful.

What happens after enrollment by the employer?

Expats that are fully enrolled are issued a health insurance card. It is advisable to keep this within arm’s reach, which must be presented at public healthcare facilities to receive the full benefits.

Pharmacies in Taiwan

If you are an expat or traveler wondering what pharmacies are like in Taiwan, you needn’t worry as pharmacies are widely available in the country. All major cities in Taiwan have pharmacies that offer prescription or over-the-counter medication. 

Fortunately, pharmacies are normally attached to hospitals and clinics, making it convenient to pick up prescription medication after consulting with a doctor. Another good news is that medications offered by certain brands are generally cheaper in Taiwan. However, if expats are on medication it is advised that they prepare enough stock before moving over to Taiwan in case the medication may not be available in the country. There may be equivalent or local alternatives, but it is worth speaking to your local doctor before moving over to prepare in advance.

Health hazards to be aware of in Taiwan

For expats and travelers that are concerned about the health hazards in Taiwan, Pacific Prime has put together a list of vaccinations to be discussed with their local doctors before traveling to Taiwan:

  • Measles: This illness is highly contagious and is caused by the measles virus. There are vaccines that include the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and the yearly flu shot.

  • Hepatitis A: This is a virus that can occur anywhere in the world, including Taiwan. Hepatitis A can be contracted through contaminated food or water in Taiwan, so it is worth seeking the attention of a doctor to get vaccinated.
  • Hepatitis B: This infection is caused by a virus that can be contracted through sexual contact, contaminated needles, tattoos, or piercings. The risks are always high, so it is essential to be wary of hygiene when frequently different places, especially at large public events. Getting vaccinated can help reduce the effects of the virus and prevent health problems, like scarring of the liver.
  • Japanese Encephalitis: This disease is spread through mosquitoes and getting vaccinated before traveling to Taiwan can help fight against dangerous symptoms like falling into a coma or swelling around the brain. 
  • Rabies: This is a deadly virus that is spread to people from the saliva of infected animals, like bats. Although it is unlikely to contract the virus in urban areas, it is recommended to get vaccinated if traveling outdoors to caves or places where bats are present.

How to secure the best private health insurance in Taiwan 

There are many insurance options available in Taiwan, which is why it can be a challenging task to find the best private health insurance policy. One of the best decisions expats can make is to consult an experienced insurance broker, like Pacific Prime.

With almost two decades of experience matching expats with the most optimal health insurance solutions on the market, Pacific Prime leverages their close partnerships with all major insurers and has an extensive portfolio of all the best plans. In addition to having the best health insurance policies, Pacific Prime also offers unparalleled service and outstanding claims support. Contact Pacific Prime today to secure the best insurance solution with the help of consultants that provide impartial advice and support.

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