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Taiwanese abroad should travel insured: MOFA

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday called on Taiwanese nationals to take out medical insurance before they travel abroad.

“MOFA advises people, especially elderly citizens or people in poor health, to purchase medical insurance before traveling to foreign countries, where medical expenses for foreigners are extremely high,” said Michael Yiin (尹新垣), deputy director general of MOFA's Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA).

The statement came in response to several incidents involving R.O.C. nationals traveling overseas, the official said.

A recent case occurred in neighboring Japan when an elderly Taiwanese citizen visited the country with her family.

She was not in great physical condition before the trip, yet she did not purchase any kind of insurance before the visit.

During her stay, the elderly lady became sick because of the low temperatures, according to Yiin.

The lady, in her 70s, was hospitalized for more than 20 days in a Japanese hospital and ultimately died, he said.

The cost of her hospitalization stood at around NT$600,000, the official said.

Another incident took place in the United Kingdom when a sectagenerian man had a heart attack.

He had to undergo emergency surgery and hospitalization. As he was without insurance, the fee was extremely high, Yiin noted.

Leave Info on BOCA Site before Travels

Yiin yesterday also called on nationals to log on to the BOCA website and leave personal information and contact numbers before traveling overseas, especially if visiting places with higher crime rates.

The move would allow MOFA to inform Taiwan's representative offices in the travelers' destination countries or cities of their upcoming visits.

The information enables overseas offices to establish contact with R.O.C. nationals if emergencies such as natural disasters occur, Yiin noted.

Taiwanese youth who visit foreign countries under working holiday schemes are also advised to leave information on the BOCA website, he added.

The BOCA service has been in place since August 2002. However, very few people have taken advantage of the service, the official said. Fewer than 100,000 nationals have left information on the site over the past 12 years.

Taiwanese nationals make more than 10 million trips abroad each year.

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