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Taiwanese living abroad return for medical care

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Many Taiwanese citizens living abroad have returned to Taiwan during the holiday season for medical services, as Taiwan's health insurance boasts greater medical care at lower prices.

Most hospitals re-opened on Monday to receive higher-than-usual numbers of patients, many of whom emigrated. Some claimed that they registered online for medical care one or two months before their return to Taiwan.

It is much cheaper to undergo a surgery in Taiwan. For instance, surgery to treat cataracts costs around NT$1,000 with insurance. The same surgery would cost US$3,000 to US$5,000 (NT$90,000 to NT$150,000) in the U.S. Pulling out a wisdom tooth at a dentist cost NT$200 with insurance, while the cost runs up to US$1,000 (around NT$30,000) in the U.S.

Wei Kuo-jen (魏國珍), chief of the Brain Tumor Division of Neurosurgery of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, said that a lot of people residing in the U.S. returned to Taiwan for cervical herniated disc spine surgery during the holidays. The surgery costs about NT$20,000 while accompanying support equipment costs NT$70,000. The total would not exceed US$3,000. But the same surgery and medical equipment would cost more than US$20,000 in the U.S.

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