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Health and Medicine in Taiwan

Be prepared to get sick here! You are in a different place with new conditions unfamiliar to your body. Luckily, Taiwan's health system is great, and you will be in good hands while enjoying the island.

The Taiwan Health System:

Taiwan has a well-organized, fairly well-resourced public health system that is heavily government subsidized. This is partly funded by a compulsory system, in which small monthly deductions are taken from workers’ (including foreign teachers) wages or salaries. Workers usually only pay a fraction of the total cost, the rest being paid by the employer. A routine visit to a NHI-subsidized clinic, dentist or optometrist usually costs NT$150-200. Larger health care centers and hospitals are also covered by the scheme, but the costs for these are higher.

You can find our more about the National Health Insurance scheme at the NHI website: www.nhi.gov.tw/english/index.asp Most doctors speak good medical-related English.

Some Differences:

Doctors in Taiwan are very quick to prescribe a large number of potent pills and antibiotics for most ailments, but only for a three-day duration as this is government policy. If your symptoms persist on the third day, you will need to go back to get another three-day prescription. Medicinal pills are usually distributed in a strip of sealed, tear-off, plastic-lined white paper bags, machine-packaged for each patient during their visit. Each pack contains one dose, and each dose usually contains anything from three to seven pills or tablets.

Culturally, the doctor-patient relationship is slightly different in Taiwan. In general, you will get less information from Taiwanese doctors unless you ask questions. Often they will simply tell you what you have and what you need to take to fix it. Westerners usually love to be well-informed, and often find it disconcerting to receive so little information from a doctor. If this is the case, don’t stress – simply ask a few polite questions to make sure you feel informed.

Shots and Vaccinations:

There are no must-have shots before coming to Taiwan.

If you plan on taking short vacations from Taiwan to other areas around Asia, check out what precautions you might need to take before leaving. You can inquire at clinics, but may need to go to a hospital to actually have the shots.

Medical Items

Taiwan’s medicine may be different to the ones you feel comfortable using, so definitely bring enough supply to last at least two months. You should also ask for a written prescription from your doctor, if you are on any special medications. This will help the health officials here to supply you with the right medication when you need it.

Chinese Medicine:

There are many Chinese doctors you can visit here, and most cost NT$100-200 with a health card if they display the health card sign. The clinics may have acupuncture, suction caps to remove toxins from your skin (leaving large circles that look like bruises), chiropractors, just to name a few facinating treatments.

Many Westerners have found Chinese medicine and healing to be agreeable and intriguing, but communicating with the practitioners may be difficult. Generally, medicine received from Chinese medicine practitioners will be herbal and milder on you body than the usual range of painkillers and antibiotics, but takes longer to relieve your symptoms.