Taiwan Healthcare System Pros and Cons

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Taiwan’s healthcare system offers the Taiwanese and foreigners access to low-cost yet high-quality healthcare. I’ll cover the pros and cons of their system in this guide.

I’ve lived in Taiwan for over 4 years and have visited various clinics and hospitals. I want to share my experience. Along with other information the government provides.

The following sections will cover the pros and cons of Taiwan’s health insurance system.

Keep reading and learn more.

Pros of Taiwan’s Healthcare System

The following sections will cover the pros and cons of Taiwan’s health insurance system.

Low Premium, Co-pay, & Medication Costs

Based on my experience, co-pays for visiting clinics and hospitals have ranged between NT$150-NT$350. And monthly premiums are only NT$826 (depending on your circumstance).

The government and companies you work for will pay for a portion of your health insurance. In most circumstances, citizens will pay only 30% of their premium. And career paths will determine government and business contributions.

Here’s an example. Private school teachers pay 30% of their premium. Then the government and institution will contribute 35% each.

If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to pay 100% of your premium.

I also haven’t had to pay much for medication. Most clinics and hospitals will include the medication costs in your co-pay.

High-Quality Healthcare

Taiwan is ranked #13 in the 2021 FREOPP World Index of Healthcare Innovation and has high(ish) quality medical facilities [1].

Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP) derives their ranking from these factors:

CategoryDescriptionTaiwan’s Ranking
Fiscal SustainabilityHealth care spending#7
Science & TechnologyHealth digitization & medical advances#27
Provider ChoiceAccess to new treatments & affordability#9
QualityPatient-centered care & infrastructure#18
FREOPP World Index of Healthcare Innovation ranking factors for Taiwan.

It’s not the best healthcare in the world. But from my experience, I’ve received the same quality of medical care as I’ve received in America.

Various Pharmacy Options

Taiwan has over 6,610 pharmacies contracted by the National Health Insurance (NHI) system in 2020 [2].

This number has likely significantly increased.

That means you have many choices when searching for medication, picking up prescriptions, or finding remedies for headaches.

Low Waiting Queues

Most waiting times for appointments range between 20-30 minutes [3 and based on my experience]. You can also get a walk-in appointment with a specialist in most cases.

Depending on your doctor’s availability.

In most cases, you can walk into a clinic, see a doctor, get medication, and schedule a follow-up appointment. You wouldn’t have to wait 30 days to see a neurologist if you need consultation.

Cons of Taiwan’s Healthcare System

Here are some areas of Taiwan’s healthcare system I believe could use improvement. Or are just areas that I WISH were better.

Digitization Accessibility

You can’t ask a doctor to email your blood test results or to call you with the results. And you can’t store other handy medical information in a universal healthcare account.

This information could make doctor’s appointments quicker (e.g., vision quality and weight).

But you can see past prescribed medication, appointments, and premium payment information.

The actual blood tests don’t take long to produce results. I’d love to see those results instead of waiting a week to find the results from the doctor.

Maybe this is just me. But I’ve asked many clinics for blood test results over emails, calling, or online accounts. They told me they couldn’t do that, and it’s against some law.

Virtual doctor’s appointments aren’t popular in Taiwan. I don’t know why they’re 

Registering for an online health insurance system was one of my most stressful experiences.

There’s setting up the account. When logging into your NHI account on a computer, you MUST buy a smart card reader and download sketchy software.

I couldn’t get any smart card readers to work on my Mac. So I had to use a PC. Then I had to shuffle through browsers to find one the health insurance portal would allow.

Once you finally complete the online account registration, you will want to download the NHI mobile app.

I had to have a postpaid cellular plan (prepaid not allowed) or scan a QR code on the health insurance’s website to log into the app.

Why not just use 2FA or U2F security keys for enhanced login security?

Now I’m in the app. Most of it’s in Chinese.

The app’s practical because you can generate a barcode to take to a convenience store to pay your bill. But all the settings are in Chinese.

So I had to screenshot with Google Translate to navigate each page.

I understand. English isn’t the country’s primary language. But they have some navigation in English. Why not the digital payment method’s navigation?

Language Barrier

Whether you find an English-speaking doctor will vary by the doctor. So you’re limited to the number of doctors you can see.

English isn’t Taiwan’s primary language. It’s understandable.

Finding an appointment becomes difficult because many clinics don’t specify whether they have English-speaking doctors. Friends have called in for me. And many times, clinics you’d think that have doctors who only speak Mandarin do have English-speaking doctors.

Sometimes not the best English, but good enough to understand your needs.

Almost all clinics I’ve seen also don’t have English names. So I had to type “X clinic” into Google Maps. Again, a country where English isn’t a primary language.

97% of receptionists I’ve encountered don’t speak English. I often handed them my health insurance card and cash (I understand Mandarin numbers).

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) lists popular clinics and hospitals with English-speaking doctors.

Many of the medical institutions they list will have online scheduling and list languages that each doctor speaks.

Doctors Have a Strict Time Crunch

Doctors in Taiwan see many patients each day. Because of this, they need to hurry through their appointments. These hasty appointments could increase the potential for misdiagnosis.

Some papers suggest that doctors in Taiwan see over 50 patients (in just a morning) each day [4 PDF link]. And they only spend 5 minutes on each consultation.

Expensive Vitamin Blood Test Panels

You can’t visit doctors and ask for a vitamin panel blood test in Taiwan without paying a lot of money.

Whereas, with my experience in the U.S., I could request a panel blood test without paying extra for it.

But in Taiwan, you must pay extra. In many instances, clinics and hospitals quoted people NT$5,000 ($157) for these tests [5]. For just a calcium and vitamin B12 test, I paid NT$450 ($14).

Let’s play devil’s advocate.

The National Health Insurance system may have difficulty staying sustainable if these tests had lower costs.

Taiwan Healthcare System vs. The United States Healthcare

Here’s where America’s healthcare system has the edge over Taiwan’s [6]:

  • More medication available
  • Highest number of approved new drugs and medical devices 
  • Medical information digitization
  • Access to virtual consultations

Taiwan dominates the United States healthcare system in these areas:

  • Premium costs
  • Copay costs
  • More private provider choices
  • Short wait times
  • No specialist referrals required

FAQs: Taiwan Healthcare

Here are some frequently asked questions about Taiwan’s healthcare.

Is Taiwan Healthcare Free?

Taiwan’s healthcare is not free.

How Much Does Taiwan Healthcare Cost?

The average healthcare premium for citizens is NT$826 ($30) a month [7].

Conclusion

Taiwan has low-cost, decent-quality, and easily accessible healthcare. But digitization has proved as some of the worst user experiences I’ve encountered.

And I would like it if they had more affordable vitamin blood panel tests. However, this list is based on my likes and dislikes of the nation’s healthcare. I’m not telling Taiwan how to run its healthcare system.

Want to learn more about living in Taiwan? Explore my other Taiwan expatriate guides.

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About Tee

Tee began first experienced the wonders of traveling when visiting Vietnam. Afterward, he went crazy and ventured to at least… More about Tee