Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on August 26, 2008
Now it’s the Taiwanese who want to get into the medical-tourism business. Till now, hospitals in Singapore, Thailand and India have been the most aggressive in trying to attract patients from other countries looking for less expensive medical care. Health-care providers in other parts of the Asia-Pacific region - anywhere from the Philippines to Korea to New Zealand - have been angling to become destinations for medical tourists, too.
According to this story from CCTV International, hospitals in Taiwan are now making a pitch of their own. CCTV says the Taiwanese see a niche for themselves providing care for patients from China at a price more competitive than what Hong Kong hospitals can offer. “New highlights include checkups costing just a third of what would be charged on average in private hospitals in Hong Kong,” reports CCTV. “Insiders from Taiwan’s medical industry say they believe that more mainland residents will come to the island for medical reasons.”
To pull this off, the Taiwanese government first needs to liberalize its policies regarding mainland tourists traveling to the island. With Ma Ying-jeou now president, that liberalzation is probably going to happen. The Taiwanese will also need to improve the reputation of their hospitals, though. That’s not so easy. Unlike Singapore or even Bangkok, Taipei isn’t famous for the quality of its health care. Moreover, when its health-care system was in the international spotlight during the SARS epidemic of 2003, Taiwan didn’t quite distinguish itself. (For more on how Taiwan [mis]handled SARS, see this CDC report.)
That said, the Taiwanese certainly have done well coming up with a way to provide univeral health care. See this blog from the New Republic. The headline: “Want Good Health Care? Try Taiwan.” The medical-tourism boosters couldn’t have said it any better.