Limitations on Taiwanese medical tourism


Taiwan’s medical tourism sector targets patients from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau with medical check ups and individual medical treatment. The check-up trade is just taking off, but the latter is being stifled by red tape, so the chances of reaching the government’s target of 100,000 medical tourists by 2010 are slim.

Since 2007, only around 30 Chinese patients went to Taiwan for an operation say local hospitals, but Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA)’s Walter Yeh says from June 2008 to mid-June 2009, TAITRA assisted 698 Chinese people to go to Taiwan for medical treatment of which, 228 were for physical check-ups.

Yeh says that the medical check-up market will grow mainly by organized groups and that more groups will come after the first 30-member medical tour group from China came for a six-day visit and praised local hospitality and treatment. At least six medical tour groups from China are already booked to in the latter part of the year. The first tour group members checked into four medical centers around the country for physical examinations. TAITRA helped the Guangzhou-based Zion Health Club to reach an agreement with 13 medical centers and hospitals in Taiwan to organize medical tourism groups from China for the purpose of medical care, spa treatment and sightseeing. Zion Health Club is a subsidiary of the Women's World Spa Resort Group, a Taiwanese-financed company that has 600,000 members around China. The next group of 50 Zion members is scheduled to arrive in late August. A group of Chinese origin from the West Coast of the United States and two such groups from the East Coast are also booked in. With Chinese and American medical tourists coming from relatively high income brackets, TAITRA argues that they will spend several times more than a normal tourist.

Apart from health checks, medical tourism between China and Taiwan is legally limited to live donor liver transplants, maxillofacial reconstruction, artificial insemination, joint replacement and cardiovascular treatment. Taiwan’s advanced medical facilities and high standard of medical professionals have attracted medical tourists, but officialdom is strangling the trade.

Wu-Ming Yen of the Taiwan Non-Governmental Hospitals and Clinics Association (NHCA) says that a complicated time –consuming application process is deterring very ill Chinese going to Taiwan for urgent medical attention. Chinese patients who wish to travel first have to obtain a medical certificate from a doctor in China to verify they need specialist care. Only then can they get accepted for treatment by a Taiwanese hospital that then has to apply to the Taiwan immigration authorities on behalf of the patient. After that, the patient still has to get permission from Chinese authorities, who are notoriously slow, to travel to Taiwan. The whole process can take up to 3 months. NCHA is urging the Taiwan and Chinese authorities to speed up the process. Some local doctors are more blunt, saying that as medical tourism is limited to very ill patients, with a three-month delay, they can be dead by the time they get everything sorted.



Do you have some news or a press release that you’d like to share with the medical travel industry?

Publish for FREE on IMTJ.


Related News

New international hospital for Korea

16 January, 2019

Korea’s first for-profit hospital approved

US birth tourism

15 January, 2019

End to US birth right citizenship?

UAE medical tourism investment

14 January, 2019

Headline UAE law to attract foreign investors

When treatment goes wrong

08 January, 2019

‘Little or no’ legal recourse for US patients from cosmetic surgery abroad

Global life expectancy trends

07 January, 2019

New insight into countries’ state of health