Taiwan has a well-developed healthcare system and medical facilities, so you can generally expect to receive quality care.
As you may have heard 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. 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 database for planning, monitoring and evaluating health services.
This innovative and ingenious smart card system (NHI IC Card), 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 the coronavirus epidemic. (Read also: Big Data Helps Taiwan Fight Coronavirus)
Here’s an explanation of “The Health System of Taiwan” :
See the video below for “How to Sign Up for Taiwan’s eMask Ordering System” (You might also like: 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-post traumatic 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, you can call the NHI’s free service hotline at 0800-030-598 which also provides English-speaking.
ARC Card & NHI Card
NHI cards are electronic IC cards that records all your health information.
To get an ARC card, which you can apply here. You will need a working permit or other visa that is valid for over six months. After you receive your ARC, you will need to apply for a NHI card from the NHI bureau.
Pharmacies and medication
If your symptoms are mild, you can visit a local pharmacy (藥局 yào jú) to speak with a pharmacist. They can offer advice and recommend over-the-counter medications that might help alleviate your symptoms. And don’t worry, pharmacies are widely available and relatively cheap in Taiwan. You can find most medications, and purchase them without a prescription such as asthma inhalers.
Even thought you are just traveling in Taiwan, a doctor visit will cost you approximately US$19 to 25 without a NHI card.
See the Doctor in Taiwan
1. Find a clinic or hospital
Seeing a doctor is super convenient in Taiwan. Why? Clinics are almost in every street corner 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 a NHI card, you will need to pay for the registration fee which is around US$5 to 8. If you don’t have a NHI card, you will need to add another US$16 to 20.
Depending on what you need, 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.
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.’)
The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) operates a toll-free health hotline (0800-001922) that provides medical information and assistance in English. Keep a copy of your passport, travel insurance details, and any important medical information in case you need to present them to healthcare providers. Many hospitals in major cities, especially Taipei, have English-speaking doctors and staff who can communicate with international patients. This can be particularly helpful if you’re not fluent in Mandarin.
Overall, Taiwan has a well-developed healthcare system and medical facilities, so you can generally expect to receive quality care. You can relax and explore the beauty of “Ilha Formosa”!
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