What do you first think of Taiwan when it comes to your mind? Taipei 101? Hot Pot? Kind people? However, there is one thing that most people don’t know is Taiwanese National Health Insurance. Unlike US health care system, Taiwan’s health care system is run through the government. Each participant is required to pay approximately 30 dollars monthly. The price might be different based on if you are employed, live in poverty, or have a disability. People who are a resident in Taiwan, including foreigner with an Alien resident card must enroll in this system. Each participant receives an insurance card that shows enrollment status, medical records, payment information, etc.
The purpose of this national health insurance system is to improve Taiwan’s health care system and increase health care coverage. Through this system, people with disabilities are able to receive comprehensive health care with affordable price. For example, in Taiwan, six sessions of Occupational Therapy cost approximately US$10 dollars. If you have disabilities or live in poverty, you only need to co-pay US$1.60 dollars for six therapeutic sessions. Other than low cost, short waiting time is another advantage in Taiwan’s healthcare system. Unlike US people who have to make an appointment with the specialists, Taiwanese can see most of specialists during their working hours (e.g., 9am-12pm; 2pm-5pm; 7pm-9pm).
Although people with disabilities in Taiwan have more opportunities to receive health care services by participating this system, there is some weakness of this system. Due to low cost of health care services, people have a high level of health seeking behaviors. As a former Occupational Therapist in Taiwan, I had to work with approximately 60 patients per day. Typically, a patient receives 30 minutes therapeutic sessions. Thus, I had to work with multiple patients within a 30 minutes session. In my own opinion, I couldn’t provide high-quality treatments for individual patients or establish as good a rapport as I wanted. People might wonder why we don’t schedule only one patient in a 30 minutes session. In Taiwan, healthcare providers earn their income mainly through patient visits, drug prescription, treatment procedures, etc. Thus, we have to keep certain amounts of patients in order to maintain our income.
Overall, people in Taiwan are highly satisfied with this healthcare system. However, how to improve quality of care and to control healthcare expenditure is a big challenge for policy makers to consider.