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A look into Taiwan's health insurance for expats

Taiwan is fast becoming increasingly popular for one thing – it’s healthcare. As of 2013, it has been estimated that 98% of its population is covered by health insurance. Universal insurance was only introduced in 1995 and incredibly, it took less than a year to implement. 

So great, it is a huge bonus in medical insurance and care for the Taiwanese but what about those wanting to visit or move to the budding state? The astounding benefits offered to the residents of Taiwan can be extended to expatriate medical insurance but, as to be expected, only to an extent. 

Taiwan is fast becoming a popular destination for students who wants to study abroad and perhaps learn Chinese Mandarin along the way. If you are planning to study abroad for four months or over then you will be allowed to enrol in the government’s National Health Insurance (NHI) and this means you will be covered for a wide range of cases including primary care, mental, dental and vision care, hospitalisation and even traditional Chinese medication in some cases.

Nearly everyone is Taiwan is covered with the state spending about 6.5 of its gross domestic product on healthcare and this is also expanded to international travel health insurance, especially for those visiting for purposes of work. This is usually carried out through the employer and this is required to be done on the very first day of work. The monthly insurance premium is shared as followed: 30% by yourself, 60% by the employer and the remaining 10% by government subsidies. 

There is an upside for any international travellers who have any relatives, be that parents, spouses or children, can be enrolled as a dependent relative. A continued residency in Taiwan for a minimum of six months is firstly required, after which you can be enrolled in the NHI system through the relative’s health insurance. However, the likelihood of gaining medical insurance in this way, is, quite honestly, marginal unless the travelling is to stay closer to a family member. 

Despite the Gross Domestic Product in Taiwan expanding 2.95% in the fourth quarter of 2013 and despite its seemingly full-proof national health insurance scheme which has had a drastic and progressive effect on the locals of the state, it does not cover those planning to visit and live there. Separate international health insurance is likely to be needed as the Alien Residency Certificate only covers international visitors who have a work permit or are there to study for an extended period of time.
 
If Taiwan’s incredible healthcare does not cover you, gaining expat travel insurance is necessary, disregarding the booming economy, better medical insurance and the abundance of opportunities. Accidents and sickness can happen to anyone at any time and although most hospitals and clinics are of high standards and not dissimilar to those found in Europe, you may still find yourself stuck in a tiny, traditional clinic of the likes of which you are not used to. It’s always better to be safe than to be sorry. 

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