Taiwan has been voted as the best place to live for expats. It is also the third-best place to do business. If you are moving to Taiwan for work or leisure, you are in for a great time.
Talking about the healthcare facilities in the country, two words aptly describe it: affordable and user-friendly. Expats will have no trouble finding professional and skilled healthcare experts. They will also get treatment with up-to-date medical technology.
The Taiwan public health insurance system was established in 1995. Today it has come to the point of being commendable. However, it would still be beneficial to have a private expatriate health insurance plan to your name.
Why? What is the need for expat health insurance in Taiwan if the public facilities are good enough? Before we answer that, we would like to discuss the public health insurance system in Taiwan.
Public Healthcare in Taiwan
The public healthcare system in Taiwan is affordable, and it offers quality services and wide coverage. It is well-staffed and sufficiently funded.
The Taiwanese public health insurance system is called the National Health Insurance (NHI) and is quite similar to the one in the UK.
It is mandatory for citizens and expats to contribute to NHI. The premiums are deducted from employees’ salaries at the source. As an expat, your employer would register you with the NHI. If you are self-employed, you will have to register yourself.
Once the registration is complete, you will get a health insurance card. You should keep that card with you at all times. You will need it to be able to take advantage of medical care at subsidized rates in the public facilities.
Please note that, unlike some other countries, Taiwan does not offer “free” healthcare to visitors. As an expat, your NHI enrollment offers “subsidized care” in the form of co-payments.
On average, you would have to pay somewhere between 10% to 20% of the cost of your treatment. Also, you would have to pay out of pocket if you chose to get any kind of healthcare treatment not covered by NHI.
This is where the need for Taiwan expatriate health insurance arises. No matter how affordable healthcare is, the idea of having to pay out of pocket is understandably unnerving for many.
When you or a family member is suffering, money is the last thing that you want to have to worry about. If you have Taiwan private health insurance, you will be able to have absolute mental peace. It would act as an add-on to the NHI cover, making sure you don’t have to compromise on treatment or pay out of pocket.
There are other reasons, also, why expats should have Taiwan expat health insurance.
The Need for Taiwan Expat Health Insurance
NHI includes coverage for traditional Chinese care, emergencies, and other treatments—but only in public facilities. If you choose to receive treatment at a private facility, you would have to pay out of pocket.
Now, this brings us to another important question: Why choose private facilities for healthcare if the public facilities are also good? There are several reasons why expats should stick to private healthcare in Taiwan. They include:
The public healthcare system in Taiwan is good only in urban centers. This is the case with a majority of countries. If you are in the rural sector, you would need private care or medical evacuation to urban facilities. Both these costs fall outside the purview of NHI. Private health insurance coverage would come in handy in such situations.
The Cultural Gap
Every country has a different culture. And when it comes to healthcare services, Taiwan seems to be quite different from what most western expats are familiar with. In Taiwan, it is generally expected that a friend or family member will take care of your personal needs during your treatment period. This includes bathing and looking after you.
Sound strange? Well, if this is something that you aren’t comfortable with, a private facility that caters to expats' needs would be a better choice for you. (Yes, there are special private facilities that do just this. Their services include more care and English-speaking staff.)
Also, towels and bedding may not be provided. If you get admitted to a public hospital, a caretaker (family or friend) is expected to sleep at the facility at night to take care of you.
If this arrangement isn’t what you want, it is better you go for private facilities.
Long Wait Times and Communication Issues
The public healthcare system has no “guards on the gates” and no “checks”. This means that most people rush to a hospital for the smallest of ailments. Unlike western culture, there is no need to be referred by a general physician. People refer themselves to the hospital, often causing overcrowding.
If you want quick care, a private hospital would be a good option as opposed to public healthcare.
Now you understand why private healthcare facilities are more suitable for expats. It is time to look for Taiwanese private health insurance at your earliest possible convenience. Relying on just Taiwanese public health insurance is not a great idea. It slows down the process of getting care, and it also affects the comfort and quality of treatment.
Buying Expatriate Health Insurance in Taiwan
If you would like to buy Taiwan expatriate health insurance for complete peace of mind and comprehensive coverage, remember just one thing: Browse through and compare different policies before choosing one. Consider factors like coverage, premiums, benefits, and the network of the insurance provider.
An expatriate health insurance policy is the key to a relaxed and peaceful stay in Taiwan!