You’d be hard pressed to find someone who wasn’t aware of the debate in America over our broken healthcare system (I think most people agree that it could be better, even if we can’t agree on how to fix it), but the fact remains that America is far behind the rest of the civilized world when it comes to how we view and handle healthcare for all citizens.
Most other first world countries offer government-funded universal healthcare – and that is also true in Taiwan, where one Kevin Bozeat has been living as an ex-pat. But unfortunately, he didn’t qualify for their healthcare and had no American health insurance, either, when he found himself super sick and in need of a trip to the emergency room.
He sucked it up and let his roommate call him a taxi, figuring he’d work out the payment when it came due (the way most of us regular people do here in the States).
Here’s what happened.
tl;dr: His experience was awesome and even with no insurance, it cost him $80.
Of course, since this is the internet in America, people had to try to find every which way to prove that his experience was singular, or reasons why it wouldn’t work in the States, or to insinuate that Taiwan is somehow a poor, third world country (it’s not; their GDP is higher than Denmark’s).
So, Kevin did some legwork for us in the form of arguments against all of the “good points” people made about his original post.
To sum up:
- The cost of living in Taiwan is about 50% of the cost of living in the U.S. Good luck going to any emergency room here for any reason and getting out of there for less than $160.
- Doctors do make less, but they’re still solidly middle class (and there are plenty of people willing to go into the field).
- The taxes in Taiwan do pay for healthcare but they’re not high – if you have their national healthcare it works out to about $70.53/month for a person who makes $60k/year.
He acknowledges that no system is perfect, but quotes the Ministry of Health in saying that “…the Taiwanese government believes that healthcare is a right for all of its citizens, rather than a privilege for those who can afford it.”
Everyone in Taiwan is covered (along with foreign permanent resident) is entitled to coverage regardless of employment status, and no citizen goes bankrupt due to medical bills.
It sounds like a utopia, but it’s not – most of the world has figured out how to make it happen. And according to Kevin, it’s time for his home country to stop making excuses.