A concise guide to Taiwan’s healthcare, biotech, pharma and medical device sectors.

Key features

•Taiwan has a high performing healthcare system that has abundant medical resources and delivers high-quality treatment and care at affordable costs, and consistently enjoys high rates of public satisfaction.

•The universal and compulsory national health insurance (NHI) programme offers equal and easy access to a comprehensive network of contracted hospitals and clinics, most of which are privately owned.

•NHI benefits are uniform and comprehensive, with all medically necessary services covered, and patients face few limits on their choice of healthcare provider or doctor, as there is no gatekeeper referral system.

•National health expenditure represented 6.3% of GDP in 2016, which is low by OECD standards, with the NHI accounting for the majority of spending at 53%, followed by household out-of-pocket expenditure 34%.

•The relatively low spend reflects the ability of the government, as the single buyer of and payer for health-care services, to control expenditures, as well as the low-cost administrative efficiency of the NHI system.

Key challenges

•The most significant issue for the healthcare system is the NHI’s ‘all-you-can-eat’ provisions and relatively weak constraints on demand or supply, which causes excessive use and wastage of medical resources.

•Patients seeking treatment for minor illnesses are a key factor behind serious overcrowding at the larger hospitals, resulting in poor working conditions for doctors and nurses and causing a retention problem.

•Due to underfunding and fiscal constraints, the adoption of healthcare cost-containment measures has led to challenges in balancing costs and medical care, and impacted patient access to innovative drugs.

•Higher costs associated with a rapidly ageing population and growth in chronic disease cases will further strain the resources of the healthcare and long-term care systems and also impact the NHI’s finances.

•Further substantive reforms will be required to ensure the NHI’s sustainability in the longer term, and in recognition of this the government has already started planning for a next-generation healthcare system.

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