Healthcare in Taiwan
Healthcare in Taiwan is affordable and user-friendly. Expats moving to the island will be well provided for by highly skilled medical personnel in well-equipped hospitals.
The majority of expats and Taiwanese citizens make use of government-funded healthcare through the NHI (National Health Insurance).
Healthcare facilities in Taiwan
Facilities at both public and private hospitals in Taiwan offer a high standard of care, although private hospitals afford both more choice and less waiting time than public facilities.
Most medical facilities in Taipei are private and expensive. Expats making use of this sector should arrange local private health insurance or international expatriate insurance.
A number of special clinics have been set up to cater to the English-speaking community. Doctors in these clinics have a greater cultural understanding of Western medicine, and expats will receive a bill translated into English. These facilities can also refer patients to the most able doctors at larger hospitals.
It’s not necessary to have an appointment to see a GP in Taiwan. Patients can visit any time during office hours and will be issued with a number, which will be called when it is their turn to see the doctor. It is possible to make an appointment with a specialist directly without having to first have a referral from another doctor.
Health insurance in Taiwan
Expats living in Taiwan for more than four months or who hold an Alien Resident Card (ARC) are required to join the NHI. Taking out private insurance is, however, still recommended.
The NHI is funded by employee taxes and government subsidies, but there are still co-payments and limited coverage for certain types of treatment. If an expat becomes very ill, the capped coverage provided by the NHI may not cover all of their medical expenses. This is where additional private insurance is useful.
Employed expats must enrol in the NHI on their first day at work, while dependants, students or self-employed residents need to register at a hospital within four months of getting their residence status. This process is straightforward and information is easily obtainable from the Department of Health.
After enrolling in the NHI programme, expats are issued a Health Insurance Card, which must be presented at doctors or facilities in order to receive benefits. Expats should note that medical facilities serving the NHI operate on a first come, first serve basis. As a result, doctors often see large numbers of patients in small amounts of time. Furthermore, as the NHI works according to a fee-for-service programme, some doctors overprescribe to boost their incomes.
Medicines and pharmacies in Taiwan
Pharmacies are widely available in Taiwan. Doctors often have pharmacies attached to their rooms so it’s convenient to pick up prescription medication after consulting with a doctor.
Medicines are generally cheaper in Taiwan than many expats may be used to. Those who rely on a specific brand of Western medication should bring an adequate supply with them to Taiwan. In some cases it can be difficult to find the exact same medicine, but there are usually local alternatives.
Pre-travel vaccinations for Taiwan
There are no specific vaccinations required for travel to Taiwan, but expats should ensure that they are up to date with all routine vaccinations.
A yellow fever certificate is required if travelling from an infected area.
Emergency services in Taiwan
Expats should dial 119 in the case of an emergency in Taipei, but ambulance dispatchers may not speak English.
It is important to be aware of emergency evacuation procedures in the case of an earthquake or typhoon – both of which occur from time to time.