This time I was asked to talk and share about my Health Care Experiences I have had in Taiwan during the time I have been here.   When going to a different country, one thing that might will affect us is the change of environment which might have an effect   in somehow in our health. I have been in this country for two years already and thank God I have not had the chance to be in a hospital or any particular clinic because I have never been sick with a disease, infection or any other situation that will send me to an extensive health care. The only medical checkups that I had had in Taiwan are some physical examinations and some blood tests when I just reached to Taipei during the days I was in the ICDF orientation, and also when I arrived to National Pingtung University of Science and Technology. In addition, I know that Taiwan is a country with a high health technology, well trained personnel in its hospitals and universities, and also has a good health insurance for its population.

In everywhere, healthcare is one of the most significant aspects to form a powerful nation for any country because it highly affects the standard of living that leads to the population and economic growth. This is why having an efficient healthcare system available for every citizen is important.   Taiwan, a small country, not only has an efficient healthcare system, but also has an equal access for all citizens. In Taiwan, government plays the role in running financing in healthcare system. However, because I do not have any more to say about any experience using health services in this country, I will talk a little bit of the background of Taiwan’s health care and its importance.  

Taiwan is a small country with a population of 23 million; which is located in the eastern part of Asia. It was first called ‘Ilha Formosa’ (Beautiful Island) by the Portuguese in 1544. The economy of Taiwan has developed rapidly in the last 60 years and there has been a rapid transition from an agricultural-based to an industrial based economy. The life expectancy for Taiwanese people in 2008 was 75.6 years for males and 81.9 years for females. In the capital city, Taipei, life expectancy was 79.7 years for males and 84.4 years for females in 2007.

The Taiwanese government adopted a nationwide health insurance system in March 1995, the national health insurance (NHI) system. Before the introduction of the NHI, there were a range of separate insurance schemes covering around 57% of the population.

These included labor insurance, governmental employee insurance, farmers’ health insurance and fishermen’s health insurance. However, most of the general practitioners (GPs) practiced independently, and there was a high-level of out-of-pocket payments from patients. The NHI system consolidated all these small insurance schemes into a single national insurance system. The principal goals of NHI were to improve the efficiency of the Taiwanese healthcare system, and to improve social justice by increasing healthcare coverage.

One good thing about Taiwan’s health care is the insurance each person has because owing   the single insurer system; Taiwan’s National Health Insurance has one of the lowest administrative costs in the world, typically under 2% of total healthcare spending. Every year, the Department of Health negotiates with physicians and hospitals to set the global budget, and this helps keep the cost of the NHI down. There is also a panel review system of medical records to keep healthcare costs down, whilst maintaining the quality of healthcare. Procedures considered inappropriate by this specialist panel will not be paid.   

Finally, the next big challenge for the Taiwanese government is to improve quality of care while keeping national healthcare expenditure under control. One quality of care area that the Taiwan National Health Insurance is working on to improve is ‘pay for performance’ schemes.

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