Moving to Taiwan will be an experience like no other. As one of the safest countries in the world, expats can explore Taiwan's friendly local communities, incredible cuisine, and breathtaking landscapes, all without a care in the world.

You’ll also be pleased to know that the healthcare system in Taiwan is straightforward, efficient, and effective. Further down the page, we’ve got everything you need to know about the Taiwanese healthcare system before you move abroad.

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Taiwanese healthcare: key statistics

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Kaohsiung city in Taiwan

One of Taiwan's many temples sitting peacefully on the water, looking over Kaohsiung City's skyline

How does Taiwan’s healthcare system work?

Taiwan is home to a single-payer healthcare system, which means one public agency – the government – controls healthcare for everyone.

The government implemented Taiwan’s universal healthcare system in 1995 by introducing the National Health Insurance (NHI) program. Although most of the country’s facilities (both public and private) can be accessed through this system, the private sector provides most of the care – which means all residents have access to a high level of care.

All Taiwanese citizens must be enrolled in the country’s NHI, as must travelers staying in Taiwan for more than four months. Once enrolled, citizens and visitors are given an NHI card, which contains the following medical records:

  • Reasons for the patient’s last six GP visits
  • Drugs/prescriptions
  • Allergies
  • Organ donation consent
  • Palliative care (care for the terminally ill and their families)

The system is predominantly financed through premiums (a monthly or annual insurance charge) and copayments (a fixed amount for a specific healthcare service), both of which all residents need to pay unless they’re classed as vulnerable.

Once residents are enrolled into the NHI, they are entitled to:

  • Inpatient care (services that require admission to hospital)
  • Outpatient care (services that do not require admission to hospital)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Dental services
  • Traditional Chinese medicine
  • Daycare for mentally ill patients
  • Home health care (care provided by a professional caregiver at the individual’s home, instead of a nursing home)

Is healthcare free in Taiwan?

Although healthcare in Taiwan is universal, it’s not free for everyone. All residents need to pay insurance premiums, as well as copayments when receiving treatment.

Healthcare in Taiwan is free for anyone classed as vulnerable. Depending on your financial situation, both premiums and copayments can be subsidized, or even completely waived. According to the Taiwanese government, if you/your treatment falls under any of the following categories, you will be exempt from making copayments:

  • People with a severe illness that requires prolonged hospitalization
  • Child delivery
  • Medical services that are offered as part of mountain rescue, or on offshore islands
  • Low-income households
  • Veterans
  • Children under three years old

Copayments can also be partially subsidized if your medical appointment is arranged via a GP referral.

Quality of healthcare in Taiwan

Taiwan’s healthcare has improved massively in the past few decades. Overall, the Lancet rates Taiwan’s healthcare system 79 out of a total of 100 points in its effective coverage index 2020 – to compare, the US scored a total of 82.

As we mentioned earlier, the Taiwanese healthcare system is dominated by the private sector – roughly 83% of hospitals are currently privatized. This means the standard of care is generally very good, and since most facilities are signed up to the NHI program, all residents have access to this level of care. 

In an effort to make healthcare more accessible and less confusing for the public, Taiwan’s government recently released an app called My Health Bank, which allows patients to access their records on their phones. The government states that this has partially helped reduce waiting times, which it claims are now “non-existent”.

As a result, satisfaction with Taiwan’s NHI program is continuously increasing. In its first year, the system’s satisfaction rate was at 39% – this jumped to 61% in its second year, and has hovered around the 80% mark in more recent years.

One area of concern that still remains is unequal access to care between rural and urban areas across the country – although the government has implemented new laws to try and overcome this. Taiwan also has limited medical resources, which is proving challenging in light of rising life expectancies, increased chronic diseases, and higher demand for new medical devices and drugs.

Healthcare in Taiwan for foreigners

Typically, foreigners in Taiwan use the National Health Insurance scheme. Similar to citizens, it’s compulsory for expats who have lived in Taiwan for more than four months – and those that hold an Alien Resident Card (ARC) – to join the NHI program.

If you’re moving to Taiwan for work, it’s likely that your employer will enroll you into the NHI scheme, and your contributions will automatically be reduced from your salary. Family members, dependents, self-employed residents, and students will have to register at a hospital within four months of obtaining residence status.

For many, the NHI is enough to cover them comfortably. However, anyone with a number of medical issues might be better off paying for private health insurance. With private medical insurance, you can make sure you have access to certain care that might not be covered by Taiwan’s State insurance.

If you think you’d benefit from private medical cover in Taiwan, start building a customized plan with Cigna today. Once you've filled out the form, the Cigna team will be in touch with a quote for how much private health insurance in Taiwan will cost you.

Do I need health insurance in Taiwan?

Yes. It’s mandatory for all citizens, and residents staying in Taiwan for more than four months, to get some type of insurance – whether you get public or private cover is up to you.

Sunset in Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei's dramatic skyline watching a golden sunset behind the clouds in Taiwan

Benefits of private medical cover in Taiwan

Private medical cover can offer a few extra things that Taiwan’s State insurance can’t, including:

  • Fewer language barriers
  • Effective cover in both urban and rural areas
  • Coverage of additional services

How much does health insurance cost in Taiwan?

As of 1 January 2021, expats and citizens get taxed 5.17% of their wages for NHI premiums – with the average person paying NT $1,825 (US $65.36) per month. Individual premiums for the NHI program are based on the monthly income that expats report to the National Health Insurance Administration.

Private health insurance, however, might cost you a little more. Unfortunately, there’s no fixed price when it comes to private medical cover – the end result can fluctuate a lot, depending on:

  • The provider
  • The plan/level of coverage
  • Whether you have any preexisting conditions
  • The region you’re moving to
  • Whether you’re male or female

Want a better idea of how much private health insurance will cost you in Taiwan? Try building your own customized plan today with Cigna. This way, you’ll know exactly how much you’ll have to fork out each month, and can avoid any surprise copayments along the way.

Advice for people moving to Taiwan

Now that you know the ins and outs of healthcare in Taiwan, you can look forward to your move, and all the fun that awaits you. And if you’re planning on venturing outside Taiwanese borders, check out some of our pages on the neighboring areas: