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Letters: A health care story from Taiwan

Gene Magill recently shared his story of health care in Taiwan with his friend, Bruce Johnson, of Park Rapids. Magill has agreed to share it in the Enterprise as well.

Here is his story:

The paper and TV news talk shows are filled with attacks and counter attacks as to the truth behind the proposed health care reforms. The absurdity of some of the claims, falsehoods and fallacious misrepresentations borders on recklessness at best and demonization of our leaders at worst.

Upon arrival in Taiwan last year and once I had established residency I was given a government health card. This provides national health insurance for the bearer of the card.

A few days after arriving in Taiwan I developed an ear problem. It didn't go away and I decided to see a doctor. After finding a doctor, I was told that this specific doctor did not honor national health care cards. I arrived, registered with the nurse, waited 15 minutes and saw the doctor. It turns out I had an ear infection. I paid NT$1,600 (U.S.$50) for antibiotics and the visit.

A week later my ear was still bothering me. I returned to the clinic but it was a different doctor and he did honor the health card. I had to pay NT$200 (U.S.$6) to register with the doctor. I waited 10 minutes to see the doctor and discovered the infection had cleared up but I had serious wax build up. He recommended going to an ear specialist nearby and returned my NT$200 because he hadn't really helped me.

The next morning I went to the specialist and paid NT$200. I waited five minutes and then the doctor cleaned my ear out. There was no bill to pay. The problem is gone.

Taipei is not a cheap place to live. In fact, things are more expensive than in the U.S. My rent is 20 percent higher than what I charge for my Tahoe condo, which is bigger and nicer. This nation is also the home of one of the most free market economies in Asia and the world.

Bruce Johnson, Park Rapids