Staying Healthy in Taiwan
Health Insurance: If you are legally employed in Taiwan, health insurance is usually provided by your employer. After you receive your ARC, you will be covered for general visits and medication. Many schools will also have an accident policy taken out for you in case you get hit by a scooter or something... good to ask the school about this. With insurance, a doctor’s visit costs somewhere in the range of US$3.
If you are worried about an accident or serious illness before getting your subsidized insurance in Taiwan, there are a number of good short-term programs to provide you with some basic emergency health insurance and evacuation insurance for a few weeks while travelling to other countries. A quick search on Google will reveal many of them, so we will not go into them here. Make sure you look closely at the details of each of these plans.
Doctor’s Visits: While the hospitals here are paragons for efficiency, if you wish to get a general appointment with a doctor, you must come in the morning to get a reservation to see the doctor later in the day. This eliminates wait times, but don’t expect to be sitting in the hospital for an hour or two... these appointments can be set to much later in the day. Also be advised that many of the doctors here may prescribe you an endless amount of pills for the common cold and predict you have many other ailments, possibly for kickbacks received on prescribing these pills. Hospitals in Taoyuan, where we are located, are prevalent and easily accessed. Emergency services are also available in this area, though in the more rural south of Taiwan, things may be a bit more tricky.
Medicine: Make sure you check with customs, but consider bringing a wide array of medicines before coming to Taiwan. Taiwanese medicine can often be very "herbal" and eastern in its origins, and questionably effective. I especially missed Nyquil and Dayquil and brought some the second time I returned. Consider bringing a good head-ache medicine as well, as you cannot find Tylenol or Advil. Be advised that tampons are also not available. Condoms (Lifestyles, Durex, Trojans) are available at Carrefoure, though local brands should be used with caution. Birth control pills are available in Taiwan, and once you get your ARC you can see a doctor to get a prescription (NT$125-225). Do not bring any illicit drugs in: the penalty is death.