Kryska’s Corner: Taiwan’s Medical Insurance

Last time I talked about medicine and Taiwan, I was talking about the policy for prescription eyewear…as in none required. However, Taiwan’s medical system is also radically different than that from the US.

Hit the jump to find out more!

Like Canada, Taiwan is known for its “universal healthcare”. Technically it’s not “free” because citizens of Taiwan do need to pay a standard fee each year. Whether the fee increases with age or not, I am not sure, but one thing is certain. Without paying this fee, you’re unable to access the most standard of medical clinics unless you pay completely out of pocket.

That’s right. Instead of how the US having its citizens calling up insurance companies and what not to discuss policies, Taiwan’s government system is very complete in this way. By “complete”, I mean, every citizen is issued a “healthcare card” that features an IC chip. Every time you visit a clinic, a hospital, or even a chinese herbal doctor, you’d need to present a valid card to avoid paying out of pocket. Without paying for the yearly fee, your IC card becomes invalid and you’re pretty much in a heap of trouble.

While you don’t pay “actual” fees if you have the insurance, there’s usually a NTD $100 fee for “registration” each time you visit a clinic or hospital. It’s not a scam though, as ALL clinics require this. However, if you forget to bring your card, be prepared to pay a deposit of NTD $1000 until you return with your card.

Since the healthcare insurance is available to every citizen, the options for treatments have to be regulated to avoid racking up government expenses. For example, the healthcare would only cover regular radiation therapy, for a cycle of 25 days. Meanwhile, more advanced procedures such as Cyberknife, for a cycle of 6 days, would be completely out of pocket. If anything, it just goes to say that, the national healthcare covers basic treatments for almost all illnesses, but the ones where you’d get a more high quality treatment, you’d have to pay out of pocket.

Seems pretty good right? Damn right it is. Because of this healthcare system, there are actually a lot of Taiwanese citizens abroad who travel back to Taiwan to take advantage of this system. However, if they do not pay yearly, the system becomes unavailable to them; that way it makes sure that the healthcare is fair for everyone, and no one cheats the system.

However, while the system is effective, it does produce quite a lot of strain on the government budget. Since people don’t like taxes, the government wouldn’t dare raise the tax %. Thus, Taiwan’s government coffers would be limited in its availability since a large portion is dedicated towards medical usage.

Although it may sound like a problem, I really wouldn’t want a country to be spending trillions on military contracts or letting it be laundered by corrupt politicians. I’d sleep better knowing my taxpayer dollars are hard at work keeping citizens alive.

Your move, USA.

-Kryska

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