Covered by NHI with spousal visa?

I will be going to Taiwan within the next year with my husband. He will be teaching ESL, and therefore required (and blessed it sounds like) to be on the NHI. I will be going with a spousal visa. Will I qualify to be on his plan? Can anyone provide me with some good links on the plan, i.e., what is covered, co-pays, etc.

Also, I am on several medications which I will require while in Taiwan. Can I have my meds sent from the USA - say every 6 months? Or will I need to have them prescribed & filled in Taiwan?

I apologize if these topics have been covered, and am open to further direction, and a slap on the hand if needed. Thanks in advance!

From what I know, you can just sign up and pay for NHI here, it shouldn’t be more than NT$2,000 a month or less.

As far as medicines go here, the system works kind of strange. Every time you see a doctor or a dentist you pay NT$150, this doesn’t include medication though. If you need medication from the doctor, then it’s NT$200 instead, but you only tend to get enough meds for 3-4 days. So if you’re taking stuff on a daily basis, I really don’t know how it works. Supposedly if you go to a doctor at a hospital it’s NT$400 and they can subscribe you a weeks worth of meds.

The system is definately different than the USA.

Lostswede is right, they like to give medicine for short periods of time here. If you need medicine on an
ongoing basis, you can get ( 1 month x 3 ) prescriptions, that must be refilled at least 1 month apart.
You need to see the doctor a certain number of times ( maybe 4 ? ) before they start giving you long term medicines. Also, Taiwan doctors are reluctant to prescribe long term medications for “less serious” conditions, and the NIH strictly regulates this, far more strictly even than a US HMO. You can still most likely get what you need, though there is a small chance you pay out of pocket. However, If you need something like adderall, you are most likely S.O.L, even though they give out anti-anxiety medications like candy…culture differences :wink:.

If getting medicine through a doctor becomes a hassle, you may be able get it OTC, even if you couldn’t get it OTC in the USA, out-of-pocket of course and cheaper than paying at a taiwan hospital out-of-pocket. ( The hospitals do double-duty as pharmacies, its how they make money :wink: ).

If you’re covered, it’s a good deal especially if you have an uninsurable disease. (disease that makes no sense for a private insurance company to insure once discovered because they will always lose money.) Take Multiple Sclerosis for example, treatment is ongoing consisting of injections of ridiculously expensive meds several times a week. A month of the medication costs 1200 dollars US at the cheapest. That’s 1200 dollars every month for the rest of your still normal spanned life. No private insurance will ever want to touch that. (They do risk management and it makes no sense to bet on a hand that’s already busted.) If you’re lucky, you’re paying 300 - 600 $ US every month for the premium plus whatever copay for the meds. The insurance companies are still taking it in the ass and they’re not happy because they lose money and you’re not happy because you still pay tons of money.

Enter Taiwan, you get covered by the NHI. The NHI has two main objectives. The first is to keep everyone working. Everyone who works gets covered with cheap comprehensive insurance. The second thing is to keep everyone healthy. Pre existing and chronic conditions are covered. Going back to example above, the NHI premium is 400-500 NTD + 200 for the meds every month. 300$ US vs. 600 NTD is 95% cost reduction. Really if you are sick and have an expensive disease, Taiwan is the place to be (if you or you’re family can work and keep you under the NHI).

Your husband’s health insurance cost is going to be a set premium based on his salary and your will be some fraction of that either higher or smaller. You make sure to bring all your medical records with proof and date of diagnosis. Also, call the companies that make your medications they’ll be able to refer you to the Taiwanese distributors who can get you local doctors with specialties in your disease.

Thank you, JourneyMatt. That makes so much sense to me - regarding contacting my pharmeceutical companies. My doctor here (in USA) is willing to write scripts for me so I can continue to have them filled here in the States & shipped to me. However, I don’t know if customs, etc., will allow this. My medications are ongoing; I have been on them many years. If I had to pay for them out of pocket they would run $3500/month. I pay only $67/month. My condition is so stable, I don’t want to chance anything.

I am sorry but I have to disagree about taiwan being the place to be with a chronic disease. While you will be covered for a chronic condition here, you will not get expensive care, you will get basic care. I know from personal experience that the care for a chronic condition from my ( employer sponsored ) health insurance provided in the USA , I received much better and more expensive care then that provided by the NIH here, hands down better. Many medications I received in the USA are not covered by the NIH. The NIH is ok though. If you have to buy individual coverage or have no coverage in the USA, I would agree Taiwan is better. Doctors here cost a fraction of what they do in the U.S., so even paying out of pocket here isn’t too bad, with the exception of drugs.

You do know that most people in Taiwan (at least those that can afford it) have additional health insurance, yes? Supposedly it doesn’t cost much to get extra coverage that would take care of pretty much everything and anything that could happen to you. The difference here is that if you need to have anything done, these extra insurances pays you a boatload of cash to cover whatever you need to pay cash for.

I don’t know. You make it sound like Taiwan is some f*cking socialist paradise welfare state where health care is magically free and the Government will take care of everything for you. But make no mistake. It is not, and health care costs a lot of money wherever you go thanks to the big drug companies. And if Taiwan’s society goes down the same road as American society (where half the population has health problems that require regular medication and two-thirds are overweight, thanks to McD and KFC) you can be sure the NHI in Taiwan will collapse pretty soon.

Anyway, it just seems so wrong when Americans start thinking that Taiwan is the place to be if you have an expensive disease. It used to be the other way round. Immigrants were accused of exploiting the US welfare state (same thing in Europe, btw). Now it’s happening to Americans.

It all depends on the chronic disease and whether it’s on the approved list. I would recommend finding the generic name (not the manufacturer’s brand name - use wikipedia) and plug it into the search function at the top right of this site. The results will all be in Chinese but that will help you get an idea of whether it’s covered. If you like what you’re doing with your meds, 67 dollars is cheap but it could be even cheaper with the NHI. And even if it’s not, it would be prudent to know whether you can get the meds you need at the hospital if something goes wrong trying to ship them from America.

And for the record, Taiwan is a socialist paradise with regards to insurance. In America, if you are lucky enough to be employed by the government or a sufficiently large corporation, you can get some pretty sweet insurance. For a recent grad with a chronic disease and student loans, those kind of jobs are hard to get. Taiwan offers cheap insurance, living wages, and steady employment for anyone with the right passport and a decent command of English. You’re coverage won’t be as good as under a really nice American employer plan, but it also isn’t dependent on you having and keeping that one job. Drug costs, as long as they’re on the approved list, are laughably low. Native Taiwanese will bitch because they paid 500 NTD at a hospital pharmacy, but that’s barely 15$ US.

The NHI may well collapse, or raise its rates or any number of other things that will make it less sweet, but for now it’s a great deal. I’m actually surprised that more Americans don’t move over to Taiwan to take advantage of it.