Sunday, January 06, 2008

Taiwan's medical system > USA's

When Americans live abroad for an extended period of time, we learn very quickly how much more expensive pharmaceuticals are in the US as compared to the rest of the world. For example, a good American friend of mine suffers from acid reflux and was prescribed Nexium by his American doctor (when he was visiting the States recently).

He assumed the price of Nexium in Taiwan would be much cheaper. The price difference was amazing. In the US, he bought Nexium for about US$300 for 30 capsules. (He, like a lot of Americans living abroad, has no health insurance in the US and the US has no national system like Taiwan does). In Taiwan, he is able to buy the EXACT SAME capsules for NT$1,040 (US$32 or so).

In the US, he needs a Rx to buy. In Taiwan, Nexium is over-the-counter.

When my friend related this story to me, we waxed poetic about medical tourism -- if one lived in the US, one literally might have to fly back to Taiwan to see the doctor and purchase medicines.

Something is wrong with the US medical system... Very wrong.... And, the Economist Intelligence Unit was "spot on" when it rated Taiwan's medical care system as the world's 2nd best in 2000.

1 comment:

third culture kid said...

i'm among the lucky few to have comprehensive health insurance through a spouse. my father, who has no health insurance, has to pay $700 for one month's supply of a particular antiviral drug. with my hmo, the most i would have to pay for same would be $24 co-pay. could be better, but better than nothing. yes, drug prices in the u.s., esp. brand name ones, are ridiculous. i really don't know how to fix the system. hillary clinton tried to do it once, but i don't hear mention of her trying to do it again. problem is, there are just a lot more folks in the u.s. than in taiwan. my theory is, it's a lot easier to have universal health care when there are fewer people, and fewer poor people. dunno much about the taiwanese system and how they do it. maybe bikhim hsiao helped legislate universal health coverage?