Taiwanese medical visas for mainland patients
Lawrence Chung in Taipei
Taiwan is to allow mainlanders to apply for medical visas for treatment on the island beginning tomorrow as part of the government's efforts to increase medical revenue.
According to the Mainland Affairs Council, mainland patients should contact qualified Taiwanese hospitals, which will help them apply for permits to stay for up to three months for five categories of treatment.
The council is Taiwan's top mainland planning body.
'Those who need extra time for treatment can extend their stay for another month,' MAC vice-chairman Jonathan Liu Te-shun said.
He said that patients could apply for permission to have a close relative travel with them and that that number could be increased to two with special approval from the island's Health Department.
Mr Liu said only those who needed partial liver transplants, facial reconstruction, artificial insemination, heart and cardiovascular surgery or joint replacements could apply to enter Taiwan for surgery. Patients who needed a partial liver transplant had to have the donor accompany them.
Mr Liu said visa processing would take about three weeks and hospitals could help the patients apply by first sending the applications to the Immigration Department for review and the Health Department for approval.
The Health Department has designated 10 hospitals to provide the service.
Hospital officials are upbeat about the new service, seeing it as a way to increase revenue.
'This will provide local hospitals with another steady source of income,' said a spokesman for the Taiwan Non-Governmental Hospitals and Clinics Association.
According to government estimates, the 'medical tourism' programme is expect to attract some 100,000 mainland and overseas visitors to the island in three years.
It is supposed to net NT$7 billion (HK$1.67 billion) in revenue and create 3,500 jobs.