Two Chinese students studying in Taiwan said they welcome a proposed measure to include them in the National Health Insurance (NHI) program, saying the inclusion would help them “feel more secure” during their stay.
Under current guidelines, foreign residents are required to join the insurance program after living in Taiwan for four months.
Chinese visitors who come to Taiwan to conduct technical or academic research can also be covered under the system. However, other Chinese students are excluded.
Health insurance is required for all Chinese students studying in Taiwan. However, many insurance companies refuse to reimburse students for various reasons, said Ma Jun (馬軍), a Chinese graduate student at National Taipei University.
For example, some students purchase overseas insurance plans in China, but later on, companies say Taiwan is not a foreign country and refuse to reimburse any costs to the students, Ma said.
Many other students do not extend their insurance policies after they expire due to complicated procedures, he added.
Including Chinese students in the health insurance program “is definitely a good thing and will make them feel more secure,” Ma said.
The Cabinet has proposed a monthly premium of more than NT$749 for Chinese students, but Ma said he would be more than willing to pay.
Without any form of coverage, “students won’t even dare to charge while playing basketball” for fear of being injured, he said, adding that he once had to pay more than NT$1,000 to treat a knee injury.
Patients covered by the NHI would normally pay much less than that amount.
Cai Boyi (蔡博藝), a Japanese major at Tamkang University in Taipei, said the insurance plans many Chinese students now have do not pay for the treatment of certain diseases.
Some insurance policies only pay NT$1,000 a day for hospitalization, which hardly covers the total cost, Cai said.
Cai cited the case of fellow Chinese, Cui Yun (崔耘), who also studies at the university.
Cui was hospitalized on Sept. 27 for a blood disease, but her insurance policy did not cover the daily expenses of more than NT$10,000. The university’s Chinese students association raised funds for Cui and the university promised to help pay the rest of the expenses.
The case highlighted Chinese students’ need for better health insurance, Cai said.
If the draft revisions to a law governing Chinese students’ visa status clear the legislature, 1,800 Chinese students will be covered under the NHI program after staying in Taiwan for six months.
Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said extending the insurance coverage to more Chinese students would be a manifestation of Taiwan’s “soft power of humanitarianism.”
The council will request China to provide the same medical care for Taiwanese students there, Wang said.