Gov’t setting up online working holiday insurance

By Joseph Yeh ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Several government units have been working together to make it more convenient for Taiwanese to purchase insurance before and during their visits to foreign countries on working holiday schemes, officials said yesterday. Speaking during an interpellation session in Taipei, Vice Foreign Minister Vanessa Shih (�v�ȥ�) said the ministry has been working with the Insurance Bureau and other government branches to make it easier for Taiwanese nationals to take out medical and travel insurance while working overseas on working holiday programs. Echoing Shih’s remarks, Insurance Bureau Deputy Director-General Joanne Tseng (����ã), who fielded questions during the same session, added that the bureau has been working with local insurance associations and companies to come up with a one-step online platform for working holiday goers to purchase insurance online. The online platform is expected to be up and running by the end of this year, she added. The bureau is also working closely with the Foreign Ministry to promote the importance of taking out insurance before working overseas, she noted. The officials made the remarks while speaking about the government’s ongoing efforts to better protect the rights of Taiwanese youths traveling overseas on working holiday programs. According to the Foreign Ministry, the government has signed reciprocal working holiday agreements with 13 countries since 2004, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Hungary, Austria, Poland and Slovakia. A total of 150,000 locals aged between 18 and 35 have taken advantage of the programs since 2004. Among them, 130,000 visited Australia, making the country by far the most popular destination, the ministry said. More Taiwanese staying in Australia also means that more of them could become involved in emergency situations, MOFA said previously. Many Taiwanese who become injured, however, have failed to purchase medical insurance before their travels, resulting in huge medical fees when medical emergencies occur, the ministry said.

Recent Case in Australia An incident occurred last week in Perth, Western Australia when a Taiwanese national surnamed Yang was seriously injured during a car crash. Without proper insurance, medical expenses are extremely high for foreigners in the country. Yang’s total medical bill could be over NT$ 1.75 million, according to his family.

Asked to comment, Shih yesterday said that Taiwan’s representative office in Australia has been offering all necessary assistance to Yang.

Even though Yang’s family did not ask Taiwanese diplomats in Australia for financial assistance, Shih said Taiwanese officials are engaging in talks with the hospital Yang is in in the hope that it can lower the costs. Meanwhile, the ministry renewed its long-standing request that young people purchase proper insurance before traveling abroad.