National Health Insurance

National Health Insurance

This is my National Health Insurance card. It’s one of my favorite things about Taiwan. I pay about $18US every month. My employer pays the remainder of the fee. With my card, all my healthcare needs are covered. I only have to worry about a minimal copay.

Recently, I had a mole removed using my national health insurance. One morning this week, I went to the hospital without an appointment, saw one of the foremost dermatologists in Taiwan, and had my mole removed and sent for biopsy in the course of only four hours. This only cost me $20US or $600NT, including the medicine I was given to keep the wound clean.

Taiwan’s health insurance is, in my opinion, extraordinary. It covers everything from dental work to acupuncture and massages. We have visited many different doctors in Taiwan and never paid more than $20US. Now, I wonder what the US is doing wrong…

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2 Comments

May 17, 2013 · 9:52 pm

2 responses to “National Health Insurance

  1. Brian Chiu

    Taiwanese native, grew up in San Diego, former labor organizer with the UAW, and currently an engineer new to the Midwest (Milwaukee, first winter here). I just got home from a community screening of the PBS documentary “Sick Around the World”. For show-and-tell I brought my Taiwan NHS card from 2006-07 as a visiting professor in Taiwan, as well as the story of my dad’s triple-bypass surgery last year in Taipei… about how the whole thing cost us only US$ 800 out-of-pocket, about 1/100th the out-of-pocket my friend’s family when her dad (despite being covered by Blue Cross) went through the same thing last year in California. Some in the audience tonight were incredulous. I looked around the web for expat stories of the Taiwan system, found your post.

    Your question: In the U.S., the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) is being implemented with lots of success at the West Coast from first-hand accounts of my friends, despite the distraction with the government shutdown. But here in Wisconsin, the ideological governor refused to even inform residents about ACA’s implementation. Obamacare is a much weaker plan compared to the single-payer system in Taiwan… but I believe it sets the national baseline for aspirant states such as California, Montana, and Vermont to reach single-payer first… incidentally the system voter-approved 2 years ago in Vermont was designed by Dr. Wm. Hsiao, the person who designed the Taiwan system.

    20 years ago my parents in Taiwan witnessed the transition from nothing to the single-payer system you have now. And I assured the folks in the U.S. that there was also resistance: Tea-Party types in Taiwan took it to the streets raising the specter of the Chinese Red Army… the 1% staged a capital strike and threatened mass layoff of employees. I saw the same madness 7 years ago in Taiwan of opportunist politicians fear-mongering about the dangers of the High Speed Rail and vowing never to ride the train. I’ll bet they all feel really stupid right about now.

    The U.S. is going through the same learning curve about universal care (and high-speed rail, which begins construction in California next year!). Thanks for bearing witness for the folks back home!

    • Wow! Thanks so much for all the information. I didn’t know so much of that about Taiwan. Glad to hear that Obamacare is working at least in parts of the States. I know that Indiana, my home state, is on a similar boat as Wisconsin. Taiwan’s single-payer system is effective and worthy of study by many countries.

      I also have my fingers crossed for a high speed rail system throughout America. I love riding the trains here and believe that a similar system in the states would allow more travelers to visit the States. So glad things are looking up in the USA!

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