Taiwan at a Glance
Healthcare and Transportation in TaiwaniStockphoto
Many of Taiwan's largest cities boast modern public transportation infrastructures.
Healthcare Facilities and Quality
As is to be expected of a nation as developed as Taiwan, healthcare facilities and medical equipment are of outstanding quality. Since 1995, Taiwan has had a socialized healthcare plan, the National Health Insurance (NHI) which covers nearly all citizens; we have taken a closer look at this insurance scheme below. With the ever-improving standard of healthcare came a steadily rising life expectancy – however, as we have detailed in part one of this article, this has also had some adverse effects.
Hospitals and clinics abound in all main metro regions; however, doctors may often be pressed for time – prepare for somewhat long waiting times. Medical practitioners and other personnel are highly trained, and as many of them have studied abroad, English is generally widely spoken in the Taiwanese healthcare sector. Particularly the expat-heavy regions and cities such as Taipei, Taichung, or Kaohsiung, to name a few, have many excellent Western-style clinics and hospitals with English-speaking staff. The American Institute in Taiwan offers, among other valuable info on all medical issues expats in Taiwan may have, an excellent, comprehensive overview of such clinics on their website.
Emergency services are quick to react, staffed by trained personnel, and equipped with high-quality equipment. They can be reached by dialing 119.
Health Insurance for Expats
If you are going to come to Taiwan by virtue of a resident visa, and chances are you will as an expat, you are required to sign up for the National Health Insurance. This can be undertaken in two ways: either your employer can register you with the insurance system starting the day you take up employment with them, or, if you do not have a steady employer, you can enroll yourself within four months of obtaining legal residence in Taiwan. This is possible at one of the many Local Health Departments that can be found all over the country. For a comprehensive list, please see the Information for Foreigners in Taiwan website.
The NHI is a premium-finances healthcare scheme. The premiums for your healthcare coverage are automatically deducted from your monthly paycheck. Personally, you only stand to pay 30% of the current rate of 5.17% of your gross earnings, with the rest being contributed by your employer and by government subsidies. While affiliation with the NHI will not cover all your healthcare expenses – copayments for a doctor’s visit, for example, start at NT$ 50 – the maximum sum of costs for medical care are capped at NT$47,000 per condition and calendar year.
Those of you without plans of taking up residency in Taiwan, i.e. those who travel to the country on a short-term basis, can expect to pay in cash for any medical services they require. In case you have an international health insurance with coverage in Taiwan, you may be reimbursed for your expenses upon return, but will still have to pay cash up front. Taiwanese hospitals generally only accept insurance coverage by the NHI.
If you have an international driver’s license, you may use it for the duration of 30 days within your arrival in Taiwan. If you need or wish to use a car beyond that period, you have two options: you can either get the validity of your international driver’s license extended until the expiration of your visa or ARC (for up to one year), or exchange your original license for a Taiwanese one (for ARCs valid for more than one year). Both procedures need to be done at your nearest Motor Vehicles Office. Please see the requirements for the exchange on the Information for Foreigners in Taiwan website.
Please note that unfortunately, the list of countries whose driver’s licenses can simply be transferred to a Taiwanese one is rather short – for details, please see the website of the Directorate General of Highways. If you hail from a country that is not on the aforementioned list, there is currently no other way than to take a Taiwanese driving test. At the time of writing, English language driving tests are only available in Taipei.