As you may have heard that Taiwan has the best healthcare system in the world. People even come to Taiwan for “medical tourism,” due to Taiwan’s low cost and high quality medical care. Getting sick is the last thing you like to happen when you are enjoying your Taiwan tour, but thankfully, you are in Taiwan! How good is it? Let the foreigners living in Taiwan tell you! (Read more: Taiwan Medical Service Ranked First in the World)
National Health Insurance
Taiwan adopted a national health insurance system in 1995 managed by
National Health Insurance (NHI) Administration. It is a single payer system for healthcare and is compulsory for all Taiwanese residents, which includes foreigners working in the country. (Read more: Taiwan’s single-payer success story — and its lessons for America)
The characteristics of the Taiwanese system include affordable, generally user-friendly, comprehensive population coverage, short waiting times, and a national health insurance databank for planning, monitoring and evaluating health services.
This innovative and ingenious smart card system (NHI IC Card), by which all patient information is stored, used and can be made available by authorized parties as and when required. And this, play a key role during 2020
coronavirus epidemic. (Read more: Big Data Helps Taiwan Fight Coronavirus )
Here’s an explanation of “The Health System of Taiwan”,
and here’s “How to Sign Up for Taiwan’s eMask Ordering System”. (Read more: Taiwan’s Amazing Mask System: Apps, IDs And Convenience Stores)
NHI’s medical services coverage is very wide, from basic routine checks to maternity care and traditional Chinese medicine. Whenever a doctor wants to recommend a treatment that is not covered under the National Health Insurance program, they must ask your approval before proceeding.
What the NHI does not cover is the following:
- Treatment of drug addiction
- Cosmetic surgery
- Non-posttraumatic orthodontic treatment
- Preventative surgery
- Artificial reproduction
- Sex conversion surgery
- Blood (except for blood transfusion necessary for emergent injury or illness according to the diagnosis by the doctor)
- Human-subject clinical trials
- Hospital day care (except for psychiatric care)
- Dentures, artificial eyes, glasses, hearing aids, wheelchairs, canes, and other equipment not required to actually treat the patient.
If you have any doubts or questions about items listed as “out-of-pocket items”, You may call the NHIA’s free service hotline at 0800-030-598 which provides English-speaking service.
ARC Card & NHI Card
NHI cards are electronic IC cards that records all your health information. To get an ARC (apply here), you need a work permit or other visa that is valid for over six months. After you receive your ARC, you need to apply for an NHI card from the NHI bureau.
Pharmacies and medication
If you are an expat or traveler that worry about that you will need pharmacy one day. Well, you won’t need to concern that pharmacies are widely available and relatively cheap in Taiwan. You can find most medications even buying without a prescription such as asthma inhalers.
Seeking pharmacy for medical treatment is always the last resort, since seeing doctor (and dentist) is not only very cheap but also in a high quality in Taiwan. Even through you are just traveling in Taiwan, a doctor visit will cost you approximately USD16~21 without NHI card!
See the Doctor in Taiwan
1. Find a clinic or hospital
Seeing a doctor is super convenient here in Taiwan. Clinics are almost in every street wherever you live. In most cases, you won’t even need to make an appointment beforehand (famous clinics and hospitals are not included), all you need to do is show up during their opening hours.
People who visit a clinic or hospital for the first time need to register. You will see a sign says “掛號 (gua hao)” which means “to register”. If you have NHI card, you will need just pay for the registration fee which is around USD5~8; if you don’t have it, you will just need to add another USD16 on it.
While you filling out the registration based on the details on passport, please note that Taiwan has different calendar of counting year called “Minguo“, which equals AD minus 1911. Thus, someone born in 1995 for example will be registered as 84.
Depending on what you need to have checked, if you are not sure which department you are seeking, you can go to hospital and the clerk will be able to recommend which department suits your medical needs. If you are sure they are clinics that correspond with your pain, you will have a better chance shorten your waiting times in clinic. And don’t worry, most doctors in Taiwan speak English!
After consultation by doctor, you will have to wait a few minute, the receptionist will give you a sheet containing your details, the doctor’s notes, and the prescription. With this sheet you can get your pills or any treatment at any National Health Insurance (NHI) appointed pharmacy.
If the clinic has the pharmacy attached to it, you will receive your medication directly from the pharmacist. All of the tablets will be separated into individual packets containing the doses I would need to take with each meal.
For emergency situations, Taiwan has very good care and the best places to go are hospitals ERs. The number to call ambulance is 119. ER is more expensive than a regular doctor, but they are still very reasonable. (Read more: An American got sick in Taiwan. He came back with a tale of the ‘horrors of socialized medicine.’)
Overall, Taiwan is probably the best and the friendliest place to get sick (it may even be on your “things to do in Taiwan” list). Seeing the doctor in Taiwan would not be something to be stressed about! While having tours in Taiwan, you will have to just relax and explore the beauty of “Ilha Formosa”!