Taiwan plans expansion of health insurance scheme to cover Chinese students

Program could potentially start as early as 2024

Taiwan plans expansion of health insurance scheme to cover Chinese students

Insurance News

By Kenneth Araullo

Taiwan's health ministry is considering a plan to include Chinese nationals studying in Taiwan under the National Health Insurance (NHI) program, potentially starting from the 2024 academic year.

According to a Focus Taiwan report, this development emerged following recent statements by vice president and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential nominee Lai Ching-te.

During a DPP party meeting, Lai proposed removing the existing six-month residency requirement for foreign students to qualify for NHI coverage. He also advocated for extending NHI coverage to Chinese students, who are presently excluded from the program.

Health Minister Hsueh Jui-yuan confirmed the preliminary stages of planning for these policy changes, which he noted would not necessitate legislative approval. If implemented, the new policies could be in effect from the start of the 2024 to 2025 academic year.

The proposal, however, has faced criticism from opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers. They have described Lai's proposal as politically motivated, pointing out the currently low number of Chinese students in Taiwan. In contrast, DPP Legislator Hung Sun-han argued that extending NHI coverage to Chinese students is a matter of human rights, meriting implementation irrespective of the number of students it would affect.

Government data indicates a significant fluctuation in the number of Chinese students in Taiwan over the years. In 2006, the figure peaked at 41,975, but declined to approximately 25,000 by 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic further impacted these numbers due to stringent travel restrictions.

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