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High-income countries South-East Asia

Single-payer, mandatory health insurance in Taiwan

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Jui-fen Rachel Lu, of Chang Gung University in Taiwan, wrote an assessment of her territory’s progress towards universal health coverage for GNHE.

You can read the full assessment here.


The author’s main conclusions are:

  • National Health Insurance (NHI) is one of the most highly rated social programmes in the history of Taiwan, with consistently more than 70% of the public expressing satisfaction with the programme in 2014
  • Since its inception in 1995, NHI has greatly improved access to care and successfully provided financial protection to all citizens of Taiwan
  • It has delivered broadly satisfactory results in terms of the equity of both the financing and delivery of care
  • In general, NHI has been able to shield needy patients from financial barriers to access and provided access to comprehensive care
  • To a great extent the public has enjoyed freedom of choice and convenient access to services
  • Despite its popularity, NHI has constantly been plagued by the threat of financial insolvency
  • The issue of financial sustainability is always top of the reform agenda and there have been numerous reform proposals
  • Unfortunately, unwieldy political processes have prevented the Ministry of Health and Welfare from undertaking reforms to tackle the deficiencies of the system
  • In its 18-year history, the National Health Insurance Administration has only succeeded in raising the premium contribution rate three times, and this came at a high political price, with a Minister of Health having to step down at one point
  • Without fundamental reforms to NHI’s financing mechanism, such as linking premiums to better measures of total household income, the rapidly ageing population and economic stagnation are likely to threaten the financial soundness of the programme
  • For the foreseeable future, financial sustainability will remain a formidable challenge to the single-payer health insurance program in Taiwan


Lu JR. 2014. Universal health coverage assessment: Taiwan. Global Network for Health Equity (GNHE). Available at: