I’ve seen a couple of cardiologists here (due to a combination of bouts of apparent costochondritis, palpitations, infrequent supposedly benign PVCs, and having become something of a hypochondriac over the last several years). If you have an arrhythmia, I’d suggest going to see a cardiologist sooner rather than later, if only for the satisfaction of almost certainly being told that it’s benign and you should sleep more and drink less coffee.
In particular, consulting a cardiologist and having an ECG are essentially free, even without insurance, so it’s not really worth waiting for the NHI given the importance of having, you know, a functioning heart. Some of the other tests, like a stress ECG, 24-hour ECG, or echocardiogram, can run into the low thousands, but that’s still relatively cheap in my opinion. (A regular ECG will obviously only be useful if your arrhythmia is occurring during the minute or two of the test, so that would depend on your specific case.)
The cardiologist here I’d most recommend is called Chun-Yee Lee (李君儀 - he’s listed under “cardiovascular surgery” rather than “cardiology”) at Mackay - I’ve seen him a couple of times and he seemed very competent and reassuring and speaks very good English. I’ve also seen one called Yueh-Juh Lin at NTUH (he was good as far as I remember and spoke English, but it was quite a while ago and I don’t remember exactly). There are also others of course (I just chose these two at random based on who was available at the time).
I’d suggest going to see the guy at Mackay, or another cardiologist selected at random, and just explaining everything to see what he/she recommends. You can always ask the price before agreeing to something - I usually do that if it’s something that I expect might be expensive, and my general impression with most of the hospital doctors here has been that they err on the side of avoiding unnecessary procedures, i.e., “I don’t think it’s necessary, but if you want to do it and pay for it I’ll make the appointment for you”.
According to my budgeting app and receipts, the rough costs I’ve paid are as follows (all over the last couple of years at either NTUH or Mackay, with no NHI):
- Basic consultation (including hospital registration fee): 400-500 TWD
- ECG: several hundred TWD (not sure exactly as I usually got it with other stuff and the items aren’t separated on the receipt - I think ~300 TWD or less)
- Basic blood tests (CBC, electrolytes, stuff like that): several hundred TWD each
- Stress/treadmill ECG (NTUH): I think around ~1500 TWD (ditto)
- 24-hour ECG (NTUH): ~3500 TWD
- Echocardiogram (Mackay): ~2650 TWD
- ER visit (Mackay, including numerous blood tests): ~3300 TWD
Hope that helps. Good luck.