TAIPEI, Taiwan – Treatment for medical tourists will not impede on resources for treating Taiwanese nationals, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said Tuesday, seeking to reassure public concerns over plans to promote Taiwan as a medical tourism destination.
The statement follows the Dec. 28 launch of five international health liaison centers at international airports in Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung and Kaohsiung aimed at providing consultations to foreign visitors.
The health centers are part of a free economic pilot zone project being rolled out at harbors and international airports to attract foreign investment.
Medical tourists will cover their own costs when visiting the 45 qualified medical institutes around Taiwan, meaning local hospital-goers will not feel an impact, the ministry said.
While the number of inpatient tourists in 2012 hit 3,845 — more than triple the 1,102 of 2008 — which would translate to only 0.12 percent of patients treated under the National Health Insurance System.
In terms of outpatients, medical tourists numbered 115,569 that year, only 0.03 percent of the number of Taiwanese patients.
Most of the tourists came to Taiwan for checkups and cosmetic surgeries, which had “relatively limited” impact on the resources available to Taiwanese nationals, the ministry said.
Taiwan’s efforts to promote low-cost, high-quality treatment to foreigners have been pushed since 2007, with the rights and interests of Taiwanese patients taking first priority, it said.