When it comes to top expat destinations, Taiwan certainly has things going its way. In terms of the best expatriate lifestyle, this small island nation is consistently ranked among the best countries in the world.
Before getting into details on international health care cover in Taiwan let’s take a look at what this stunning island is all about:
The island's original name was Formosa and this dates from 1542. Portuguese sailors discovered and noted this uncharted island on their maps giving it the name Ilha Formosa (“beautiful island”). That term should set the scene for what expats can expect.
Taiwan as it is now known considers itself as an autonomous democratic island state. Although the Republic of China (ROC) claims it as part of their territory under its “One China Principle” ruling the country continues to flourish independently. This largely mountainous island certainly has a unique character all of its own.
Located between the Strait of Taiwan, the South China Sea and the Philippine Sea. It is approximately 180 km (112 miles) off China’s southeastern coast and double that distance north of Luzon, Philippines main island. Taiwan is around the same size as The Netherlands and the U.S. State of Maryland.
This picturesque country is one of noticeable extremes. Mountain ranges dominate the eastern area with sloping plains covering the west. It is the western part of Taiwan where the vast majority of its 23.45 million inhabitants reside.
Taipei is the capital, with other large metropolitan areas being New Taipei City and Keelung. Other major cities are Kaohsiung, Taichung, Tainan and Taoyuan.
Astute government measures over many decades have seen Taiwan flourish as a nation. If business sector balance were needed, this progressive island is a shining example.
While a huge and successful emphasis is placed on agriculture and fishing, Taiwan is also classed as a country where hi-tech business flourishes. It is classed as one of the world’s leading producers of information and communication technology products and is seen as a key high-tech manufacturing hub.
While expats who choose Taiwan as their working location will reap the rewards offered, they will certainly not be short on things to do and places to see during their leisure time. Another big plus comes from the fact that the Taiwanese pride themselves on being warm and extremely hospitable with many of them speaking English.
The island is home to over 100 mountain peaks that tower in excess of 3,000 meters and a similar number of relaxing hot springs. You can also take advantage of the 9 national parks that are home to wildlife in their stunning natural habitat.
From there, head to one of the many stunning stretches of golden and black-sand beaches along with wonderful coastal towns. As for those in need of a cultural hit, Taiwan boasts some world-class museums along with stunning temples.
If all of this makes you hungry for more, then the standard and variety of food available will blow visitors away. It has some of the best night markets in Asia, top-class gourmet restaurants and everything in between. Expat foodies will be in dining heaven as the Taiwanese class eating as a national pastime!
While the standard of island life is excellent there are preparations that expats need to focus on. One of the most important is related to international health care in Taiwan.
Whether you are a single expat or bringing family members to the country, putting expat health insurance in place means peace of mind and protection.
Expats living and working in the country’s major cities will find the quality of care offered is similar to European standards. The facilities available at hospitals and larger clinics are modern, clean and efficiently run.
Further assurances that the medical care and health systems in the country will meet your needs comes from the fact that it is ranked 10th in the World Index of Healthcare Innovation. They are also the highest-ranked single-payer health care system in that index.
Created in 1995, Taiwan’s health insurance system is administered by the Bureau of National Health Insurance. This is a social insurance scheme designed to cover the entire Taiwanese population for such things as hospitalization, pregnancy, traditional Chinese medicine, outpatient care and dental care.
The NHI is funded through employee contributions (taxes) and government subsidiaries. Expats in Taiwan are at liberty to make use of the government-sponsored healthcare facilities which come through the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme.
This is because it is mandatory for any foreigner staying longer than 4 months to register and pay into the system.
It is likely that expats (and any family members) will be enrolled by their employees within the first few weeks of arrival in the country. For employed expats NHI contributions are automatically deducted from monthly salaries (this expense is likely to be included in any expat remuneration package).
However, the case for family members is slightly different and they must register with a hospital within 4 months of obtaining resident status.
It is important for all expats to understand that if they (and any dependents) intend to stay in Taiwan for 4 months or more that it is compulsory for them to hold an ARC (Alien Resident Card) and to join the NHI scheme.
As can be seen, the public and private health facilities in Taiwan are efficient and will meet the majority of your medical needs. However, there are a variety of reasons that expats should take out private expat health insurance while living in Taiwan.
It is true that up to a certain level your NHI inclusion and mandatory payments will cover a reasonable amount of medical care. But, for more complex conditions, emergency treatment and hospital stays, co-payment should be expected.
Without any international health care cover you will have to pay the additional costs from your own pocket. Having a policy in place will mean these costs can be reimbursed by your health insurance provider.
If you are feeling unwell or would like some general health advice then a General Practitioners (GPs) office can be your first port of call. If such a visit is necessary expats will need to pay for their visit at the end of any consultation. If, as is recommended, you take out a policy for international health care cover in Taiwan, it is important to keep any bills in order to have these reimbursed by your expat insurance provider.
Expats will find pharmacies in good supply. All major cities in Taiwan have a good choice of pharmacies that offer OTC (Over The Counter) medication and fulfill prescription needs.
They will also find that in most cases there are pharmacies attached to clinics and hospitals. If you visit a doctor at one of these and are given a prescription it means you can collect it immediately after their consultation.
Certain international medicines are available from pharmacies. However, if you are on a long-term prescription, you should visit a clinic/hospital soon after arrival in Taiwan in order to check prescription availability or any offered local alternatives.
If a referral is recommended after a visit to a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital, this will be offered. However, if you have private international health care cover in Taiwan, this will give you flexibility in choosing a facility covered by your policy and meets your medical needs.
As would be expected both public and private hospitals offer emergency services. While both have good facilities, expats tend to lean toward the private hospitals and clinics.
As mentioned, these establishments offer good quality care and modern medical equipment. Expats can also expect a good standard of English from the specialists, doctors and nursing staff as many have been trained in the USA.
Should an ambulance be required to take you or a dependent to a hospital public and private ambulance services are available. It is better to use a private ambulance service, but there will be a need to pay on admission.
This is another good reason to have expat health insurance cover in place. By doing so you can then be taken to a facility of choice (one that is covered under your health insurance policy).
By securing the best international health insurance cover in Taiwan to meet your (and any family) needs means expats are paying a small price for peace of mind medical treatment.
Should any medical treatment be required outside of that which is covered by the country’s NHI scheme, these costs can be covered by your private expat health insurance policy. It also gives expats choice of private medical establishments should the need arise.
Co-payment for medical services has been mentioned. Expats need to remember that even though they are paying into (and are covered by) the NHI scheme that co-payments may also be required. This is because the NHI provides limited coverage for certain care and treatment types.
If you (or a family member) fall ill, the NHI capped coverage amounts may not cover all of these medical expenses. Should that be the case and you do not have additional international health care cover in Taiwan, these additional expenses will need to be paid from your own pocket.
While the co-payment issue is an important one, here are some other solid reasons for taking out expat health insurance before you arrive in the country:
In the first instance, until you are registered with the NHI you will not be covered for any medical care during the early part of your stay in Taiwan. This means that if it takes your employer time to register you or it takes time to arrange your ARC and to join the NHI you will not be covered during that period.
This makes securing a quality expat health insurance policy strongly advisable. Being covered under one of these comprehensive schemes means that you are covered should a worst-case scenario occur. Examples here are if you (or any family member) need medical attention, fall seriously ill or are involved in an accident that results in hospitalization during this period.
Taking out expat medical care insurance in Taiwan to coincide with your arrival will give peace of mind. It means that in any unfortunate situation you will at least be comfortable in the knowledge that the medical expenses incurred will be covered and paid for under your policy.
Having an expat insurance policy in place gives expats choice. This comes through being able to decide on which of the private clinics or hospitals you would like to attend for treatment. Additionally, in the event of hospitalization, you will have the right to choose one of the quality hospitals that are partners with your international expat health providers network.
Established expat health insurance companies place rigorous standards and conditions on any medical establishments they partner with. This means you will be getting the best of the best while in Taiwan.
As expats and any family members are reaping the reward of a top quality lifestyle in the country, the cost of international health care cover in Taiwan should match that lifestyle. This should be seen as a small price to pay for the peace of mind and choice it offers.
The fully focused Expat by Expat team of international insurance brokers is fully aware that expatriates have enough on their plate when moving to and settling into a new country. We also understand that those expats who are now established in the country have different demands on their time.
Arranging cover or reviewing your current policy for international health care in Taiwan is one of those very important factors on your ‘to-do’ list. However, it is understandable that this can slip through the net.
This does not have to be the case because the highly experienced Expat by Expat team is ready to take this task up on your behalf.
By completing the quick and easy expat health insurance comparator above (or insert a link) we will progress things from there and provide you with the best international health insurance options to meet your personal needs.
Based on your requirements, you will receive the most appropriate choice of cover to meet your (and any family) needs while enjoying the tremendous lifestyle that Taiwan has to offer.
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