| expenditure, which equates to 752 US Dollar per capita. As much as 64.9% of this expenditure is attributed to public healthcare sector.
Taiwan was put on high alert at the height of the SARS pandemic in 2003 but it was later declared a clean bill of health by WHO (World Health Organization).
National health insurance (or NHI) is the government agency created in 1995 to take charge of public health. It implemented a compulsory national insurance scheme and continues to manage the centralized insurance pool for the purpose of disbursement of medical bills. The objective of this universal health care is to provide free healthcare access to all citizens and by 2004 end, the system is reported to have covered up to 99% of Taiwanese people. The centralized insurance pool is funded by both government and employees (in the form of payroll tax). In the early years, NHI tried to promote a free-service scheme where all expenses related to medical assistance were funded by the government. However, the scheme was heavily abused by private sector healthcare providers by sending in bills with exorbitant charges. In order to stem the loss and enforce proper cost control, NHI changed the system to a global budget, a sort of individual payment scheme in 2002.
While Taiwanese people enjoy a fairly high quality of health, there are still some rooms for improvement. The scheme implemented by NHI is to be applauded for its extensive and successful coverage (up to 99%) but the scheme is also losing money every year as the central pool does not have sufficient funds to cover the necessary services. Instead, the system has to be dependent on loans from commercial banks. The revenue base is pre-agreed so it may not necessarily keep pace with the expansion or contractions of the earnings by the country. The insurance premiums are controlled by the national parliament; however, the politicians are very reluctant to increase these premiums for being fearful of losing votes. On the technology front, Taiwan has been slow to adapt to new developments in the medical world, with drugs being the exception (quite a number of global pharmaceutical brands have chosen Taiwan as the manufacturing base of their products). As a develop economy, Taiwan also does not fare well in terms of number of physicians to population. The country is in serious need of injecting more medical professionals in order to be comparable to develop countries in the Western world. Due to the shortage of physicians, the consultation services are often kept short, typically around two to five minutes per session. The country can also benefit from appropriate reporting system that is designed to monitor clinical performance, patient outcomes and adverse events.