Youths working abroad urged to have insurance
By Joseph Yeh, The China Post
July 24, 2014, 12:08 am TWN
A recently released Control Yuan report urges Taiwanese youths who plan to travel abroad on working holiday programs to take out proper medical insurance before they travel.
The report released on July 16 said there are an increasing number of Taiwanese nationals traveling abroad under the working holiday schemes.
Most of these working holiday goers only take out regular traveler's insurance that covers overseas trips of up to 180 days. However, most of those taking advantage of working holiday programs stay overseas for over a year, the report said.
A lack of proper insurance could result in high medical expenses if a Taiwanese national needs to undergo emergency medical treatment or hospitalization in a foreign country where medical expenses for foreigners are extremely high, the report warned.
For instance, in a 2011 case, a Taiwanese youth on a working holiday in Australia had a serious car accident in the western part of the country.
Following the accident, the Taiwanese was hospitalized for over a month without having regained consciousness. His family later sent him back to Taiwan for further treatment.
The entire medical expense stood at NT$1.75 million. The national did not take out any proper insurance that could cover the expenses, resulting in a huge burden to his family, the Control Yuan report said.
According to the investigative report, Taiwanese nationals working overseas on working holidays face higher risks than normal travelers.
Proper Insurance Needed
Travelers on working holidays should purchase proper and longer-period medical insurance before going abroad so as to avoid facing expensive medical fees should emergencies occur, the Control Yuan noted.
The Control Yuan also calls on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to work with the government units responsible for supervising insurance-related issues so that MOFA can properly inform Taiwanese youths on what kind of insurance policy they should buy before traveling overseas on working holidays that last for longer than one year.
According to MOFA, Taiwan has currently signed reciprocal working holiday agreements with 11 countries, namely Slovakia, Germany, Ireland, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Hungary as well as Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
A total of 120,000 locals aged between 18 and 35 have taken advantage of these programs since 2004.
Australia is the most popular destination for Taiwanese. More than 30,000 Taiwanese youths are currently staying in the country under the scheme.