Series on medical tourism destination: Taiwan Health System

Taiwan's Health system organization and National Health Insurance (NHI)

Taiwan is an island country located in Eastern Part of Asia near China. It is a developed country with GDP of US 20,958 per capita in 2014. The National Health Insurance (NHI) in Taiwan has been launched since March 1995 due to public pressure. Prior to implementation of NHI, health services were payed out of pocket and through various insurance groups. The NHI combined all this insurance groups into a single payer, the population to a single client and the health services as multiple providers (Gui, 2014). This system has resulted in affordable and quality health care to its population at a low administrative cost and with a high satisfaction rate by the population. According to the satisfaction surveys (Liao, Chang & Sun, 2012; Chiao, Ksobiech & Wei, 2014), more than 80% of the respondents are satisfied in terms of medical services, quality of care, or the extensive use of information technology. THS has also a good rating by the expatriates living in Taiwan[1]. In 2005, the Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman praised Taiwan’s health care system that had expanded coverage without a major increase in health expenditures (Ho, 2015). Now, the NHI system covers 99.9% of the population and 93% of the hospitals and clinics that provides extremely convenient and high quality but cheaper health care for the residents (Cheng, 2015a).

Healthcare System and Quality in Taiwan

In Taiwan, all hospitals are given accreditation by the Taiwan Joint Commission on Medical Accreditation (TJCHA). This organization helps in maintaining doctor standards and assuring medical and health care quality in the hospitals. In Taiwanese hospitals, the standard of healthcare services is maintained quite high in order to receive higher accreditation. If the accreditation standards are high, then more subsidies will be received for that particular hospital and its concerned facilities. This helps to ensure that a particular standard of healthcare providers is maintained throughout the country.

Advantages of receiving medical care in Taiwan

Taiwan has many advantages when it comes to getting health care services (Ho Chan, 2010). Many reports point out these advantages[2] such as: low-cost but high quality treatment, highly qualified medical professionals, diversified treatment plans alongside with excellent follow-up programs, use of highly up-to-date and sophisticated technology, whole department dedicated for international patient, numerous international available flights to travel, visitor-friendly environment.

Taiwan healthcare providers’ services weakness

Even though THS is largely opened to serve expatriates, there is a difference between the Hospitals in big cities and those in small towns in regard to their abilities to serve foreign residents who don’t speak Chinese and the most common local language (Taiwanese dialect). To recognize those hospitals who can serve international aliens, we need to check if they receive a JCI- accreditation from the Joint Commission International whose parent institution is in the US. Now no more than twelve Taiwanese hospitals received the JCI accreditation (Gilhawley, 2015).  

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[2] Several advantages about Taiwan Healthcare system have been mentioned, but here are presented the most relevant ones summarized from various sources  available online: (a); (b)