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32. My Taiwanese Health Care Experiences

Language has always being a barrier, and when it comes to health, it does not make it any easier, but after a year in Taiwan you learn how to communicate, if not with words, with your body. Body Language can certainly save you. I remember the first time I went to the doctor in Taiwan, nothing to be worried about to be honest, it was just a simple allergy, but how do you explain that in Chinese when you have barely been here for days? I decided to go to the clinic that is close to my university. The nurse started speaking to me in Chinese and when she saw my confused face, she just smiled and said: “Card” and made a rectangle with her hands. I immediately understood that the only thing she needed was for me to hand her in my “National Health Insurance Card” and she would do the rest, and so she did. Five minutes after that, the doctor was calling me, I went in and he started speaking to me in English. In less than three minutes he had already given me like five different pills to treat my allergies. Three days after that, my allergy was gone.

It is only human that at one point in our lives we are to get sick or have complications in regards to our health. For the past three years of living in Taiwan I have had numerous check-ups, surgeries and other health related experiences that I had to undertake. After having experienced Taiwanese health care at first hand, I have the opinion that it is very reliable and efficient. I must mention that at first I was skeptical about going to see a doctor or going to hospitals due to the fact of the language barrier and having the feeling that you may not be comprehended. Eventually, I had to overcome these feelings because health is very important and we have to trust that we are in the right and capable hands of the doctors wherever we may be.

I remember my first trip to the doctor was for having a cold. I went alone because we had just arrived at the university, so we had no health insurance and had not met any local friends.  It was a bit complicated because I only knew a few mandarin vocabularies and was afraid that I may not be able to get my message across to the doctor. It was to my surprise that the doctor knew English and so I became relieved and relaxed. After this first experience, I had confidence to make an appointed to the doctor anytime I became ill.

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.  

In my opinion health care in Taiwan is quality health care. However, the Language barrier is the biggest problem I think foreigners face in Taiwan in term of it . If I were to advise any new comer, I would encourage them to find a doctor who speaks English. Lucky enough, at the Hospital near NPUST, I have been fortunate to find 2 doctors who speak English. In private offices nearby, there are also Dentists and Dermatologists who do speak English. If is not possible, try finding a Taiwanese friend who speaks well or even somewhat good English who can translate for you.  

    In terms of minor accidents, whether it be, bruises or cuts, the health centre is more than ready to assist. I have had many encounters with the nurses who work at my school’s health centre due to a number of clumsy accidents. They are very friendly and even if their English is not one hundred percent they are more than happy to try to help. Also the services are very convenient. One example of this convenience is operating hours. The Centre is open from 8 am until 9:30 pm Monday to Friday. Since they are closed on weekends, the patients are given extra medical supplies e.g. bandages, antibacterial ointment, iodine, gauze , cotton bud swabs, even singly tube saline water to self clean their wounds. 

    At the hospitals they try their best to assist. In my frequent visits to Guo Ren Hospital, I have always been assisted  with little English ( I try using my futile Chinese to help as well but of course that renders the situation even more useless because they barely understand since sometimes I get the tones mixed up).  The good thing is, the hospital has a set routine on how things work, so after a couple visits it is easy to get into the loop of things.

     One really strange thing which has puzzled me is Panadol. Every time I go to the doctor, no matter the ailment I’m always prescribed Panadol. I found this really weird and I usually think to myself, is this thing free? Is that why they keep giving it to me?

Health is not the mere absent of disease or sickness in an individual. The mind and body should be free from any disturbances; in that case, there is no individual that is 100 percent healthy. Health is an important issue in life, without it, processes and life activities are at a standstill. In Taiwan the health care facilities are very good, decentralized and provide great services. The ways services are offered or procedures in the hospital show sense of responsibility and commitment. For example, the manner in which patients are queue to see particular doctors are amazing. In this discussion of my health experiences in Taiwan, I will highlight some categories, which I feel interesting on my part, namely the expensive nature of the services, language barrier or bad patient doctor interaction, high dependence on computer, the hierarchy of their staff, and the periodic health examination ones undergo, which I deem necessary and important.

          The health care services of Taiwan are expensive especially without the health insurance card. My first visit to the hospital gives me knowledge of this. I was without an insurance card and have to pay an amount that exceeds one thousand NT dollars, this was surprising to me. The issue of an insurance card is very important; it gives patients the ability to get good treatment with cheaper prices.

The Health system of Taiwan is known for its modern, accesible and high quality services, especially for the senior citizens. In many countries, third aged people face many troubles that their local health system can’t conceal. Taiwan is the opposite; I’ve noticed that even some senior citizens used their insurance so much, that the young adults are starting to get worried about their future health system stability.

Taiwan accounts with a large number of clinics in every corner. I live in the rural area, which in developing countries, lacks of enough or good medical services; however, in Taiwan country field area I can easily found at least 8 clinics in less than 4 km.  The clinics have several specialties such as modern medicine, chinese traditional medicine, dentists, dermatologist, etc. In the next sentences, I’ll briefly introduce some of my funny and helpful experiences with them.

I think the funniest one (the other are painful rather than funny) was when I tried to ask for the dermatologist clinic in chinese. I understood “That clinic is just two blocks ahead”. I thought that was too far away since I had been there before, but because I had forgotten how to get there, I decided to follow their direction. When I arrived, it didn’t look like the one I had visited before. It had a  banner that reads “中醫” which means “chinese traditional medicine”.  Well, I decided to give it a try though the medicine was so strong for my stomach that I could not continue taking it. On the way back home, I noticed that the dermatologist clinic that I initially attempted to go was just two “stores” ahead, not two streets ahead!!

 

Hi reader, herein Taiwan there is an advanced health care service for both citizens and foreigners. However, the acquisition of health insurance card is quite bureaucratic and therefore requires some amount of patience and indeed will cost you money. In the process of acquiring the health insurance card, I have experienced nurses asking whether they could touch my hair. Note this is not a racist remark but rather this is their first experience perhaps to interact with a black patient. If this happen to you in the process, don’t feel bad it is just a question and besides some of them are amazed by our hair style especially with my curly hair.

On health care experience, I have recently gone through a successful plastic surgery at one of the best hospitals (Kaohsiung Memorial) in southern Taiwan. This hospital has a high class services for both local and international patients seeking medical solution. The doctors are highly experienced in their special areas and the nurses are always available 24hrs at your services. The prescription is computer programmed which ensures a limited or no error on drug dosage. Another pretty part is the quipped facilities such as the accommodation, the hospital is not stacked with patients and this makes it possible for you to get the best attention you deserve as a patient. Again the doctors are very fluent in English but I must warn you that not all the nurses you see around you are good speaker of English, so be ready to speak slowly for them to capture and understand what you wish to communicate. For some of them your stay in the hospital is a moment for them to practice English which is why they always try to communicate to you in English. Early in the morning expect to hear a greeting that goes like this: ‘did you sleep well’? In my experience, another thing you should know is how to make an appointment to see a doctor. I have always sit on my computer search the hospital link and try to call the information center. All this efforts yield no to me but rather cost me money. This because the information desk staff have difficulty understanding what you want or you are dialing a call center that speaks Chinese and referring you to an extension dial. For your convenience, never call the information center seeking admission or making inquiry from your phone or computer. My advice to you is always walk or run to the hospital and makes you admission or inquiry. This is the best way to communicate what you want and besides you have the opportunity to meet the people there and interact. This interaction is good for you because it gives you a clue of what kind of nurses and doctors will be handling your medical condition. My encounter was a very good one, I have made many friends and above all I found a local parent in the hospital during the process of admission. My local parent (Mother) takes care of all the paper work I need from desk to desk and this made me so privileged. I am sure you can get one if you humble yourself and interact.

On billing for your medication, you are safe if you are covered by a health insurance company. The services offered by Taiwan health care are exceptionally good but however it is expensive if you are not covered by any health insurance. Therefore, I strongly recommend you find one as soon as time allows you because there is a heavy traffic here and besides you never know when an accident is going to befall you.

I have been in Taiwan for more or less one year. Even though during this time i have not had a serious sickness or other related state, I have discovered that Taiwanese health feedback of people is well design. It provides health support to Taiwanese citizens and despite their nationalities to foreigners. The only requirement is to have National Health Insurance (NHI), which is need to be applied when foreigners are residents in Taiwan.

I as ICDF scholarship holder and foreigner student in Taiwan I am resident here, hence I  had to apply for the National Health Insurance  just after getting our Alien Resident Certificate (ARC). This insurance will help International students in case of any kind of emergency, health care or medical need.

While you start classes in Taiwan’s Universities it is needed to have a health check which is usually done within the Universities’ facilities.  This procedure must be done to guarantee our health and others. In case you need to have a vaccine they will notify you which one it is, then you could go to the closest health center to have your dose.

Well first of all my name is Andrea from El Salvador  I’m studying at NPUST and my experience with my health insurance is pretty nice actually I went to the hospital that’s is very nearby  to see the doctor twice and the service is excellent, the first time I went even though the nurses couldn’t speak any English they tried to find a person who could help me , when they found someone he kindly start to asked me what could he do for me and he took me to the doctor and he walked me and explained my situation to the doctor he was very helpful and very kind , actually while I was waiting my turn he start to talk to me and ask me where I was from , he was very curious about me , and I really appreciate that first experience and I can complain at all because they make me even a X ray as soon as possible , to tried to find out what was wrong with me and they doctor gave me medicine that I got very quickly I was impressed how convenient everything was and I thought that because it was a private hospital it would cost me a lot of money but actually it was cheap thank to my insurance card and it was a complete treatment .

My name is Alejandra Maria Mencía. I am from Honduras, Central America where the National Health Insurance is a big trouble. It varies in quality and availability. We do not have  many public clinics or even doctors in most parts of the rural areas. People from places outside the city have to travel long distances to get a medical appointment and wait for many hours to be attended.  The medication prescribed  for special cases is most of the time unreachable for many people because the drugstores sell it at very high prices. Ambulance services are very limited in the principal cities and almost unavailable in the rest of the country. People from low-income are unlikely to qualify for good medical treatment because the limited resources in Honduras. Facilities for advanced surgical procedures are not available. I wish my country had a better health care insurance for the people and stop losing valuable lives.

One of the concerns that I had about living in a new country was the health care issue. I thought that in Taiwan it would be more difficult because the language barrier. My first experience was when we  arrived in our school, National Pingtung  University of Science and Technology. They did a general medical examination that included our weight, height, cardiovascular, blood pressure, visual acuity, dental, chest X-ray, pulse rate, ears, hepatitis B test, HIV test, among others. After a few weeks later they gave us our results and depending on our health status, they also made some medical  suggestions. With our heath insurance card we can go to any of the health insurances centers. I have noticed that there are many of these centers around school. The price is really cheap, they only charge you 50 TWD per appointment and sometimes it includes the medicine prescribed. Most of the doctors speak English but when they are not really familiar with some terms, they have some notes about the most common symptoms of a disease. I really appreciate the way they treat their patients. They always try to find the best way to understand and help people.