by Cat Thomas

Taiwan has an enviable National Health Insurance program (NHI). Luckily for entrepreneurs it is possible to enrol independently without an employer as long as you hold a resident certificate (ARC/APRC/JRFV). The rules vary slightly depending on your circumstances.

If you are already enrolled in the NHI through your employer and you are now making the switch to becoming self-employed you can simply switch your enrolment to independent enrolment as listed below. However, if you have just arrived in Taiwan and own your own business – or are on the Entrepreneur visa – according to the NHI’s English website:

“If you are not an employee but own your own company, you will have to wait for 6 months before you are entitled to join the NHI. This may sound odd, but because these people are usually better off than others, they could probably afford to purchase private insurance during that waiting period.”

As ARC holders, those on the Entrepreneur Visa may apply to join the NHI scheme after six months of residency.

There are several ways to enrol including straight up individual enrolment, through membership of a Labour Union and as part of a family unit.

For independent payers (including those on the Entrepreneur Visa): You enrol by popping down to your local administration office. The premium is NT$749 a month and you can choose to pay monthly or in block advance. The bill can be paid at convenience stores or a direct debit can be set up. Note that this premium is tax deductible under the ‘Special Deductions’ category. Although if you are not claiming the exemption for housing you may be better off sticking to the ‘Standard Deduction’.

If you do decide to take the special deductions note that the payments are deductible for the year in which they are made, not the period that they cover. So if you are planning to pay upfront make sure you consider which tax year the payment will fall in.

Another handy point to note is that if for some reason you are in another part of Taiwan and need to make any arrangements to pay your insurance or other enquiries it is possible to visit the nearest local administration office to do so.

If you are considering having a child in Taiwan and neither parent holds Taiwanese citizenship then your new born will not be covered on your Health Insurance under current regulations. They will only become eligible after 6 months. Revisions to this regulation specifically aimed at APRC holders are scheduled to be discussed in the Legislative Yuan when it restarts in the autumn. In the meantime, if you are in/anticipating this situation it is advised to seek out private insurance to cover unexpected medical costs.

Workers in Taiwan in companies with over five employees should be enrolled in the Labour Insurance scheme. As an entrepreneur, freelancer or self-employed person without a company under the current regulations, unlike the NHI, there is no way for individuals to enrol in the government Labour Insurance (Lao Bao) scheme. Labour Insurance provides a pay-out in case of death and benefits for maternity leave, sickness or injury or disability and survivors.

One solution to not being able to access this scheme is to take out personal insurance. This kind of insurance is easily available in Taiwan and can cover you for accidental death and periods of sickness for as little as NT$3,000 -5000 a year. Most policies are only available in Mandarin – so make sure you understand what you are covered for and how to make a claim.

The other solution is to join a local Labour Union.

The Project Manager’s Labor Union of Taipei (臺北市企劃經理人職業工會) is one possibility. They accept people such as App designers, bloggers and so forth. There’s a one-off membership fee of NT$700 then monthly dues of NT$200. Assuming you enrol at the lowest minimum salary (NT$21,009) then the Labour Insurance costs NT$1,216 and the Health Insurance NT$642 (these are already subsidised by the government at 40%). You pay in 3 month increments and must provide a mailing address for the union to send the payment slip to.

To enrol you must go in person to their office and be interviewed. They don’t provide an English service so if your local language skills aren’t up to scratch you’ll need to take along someone to translate for you – there’s also a questionnaire (in Mandarin) that must be filled out. You can check out their website here. The website in in Mandarin only.

The 臺北市各業工人聯合會職業工會doesn’t use an English name but roughly translates as the Taipei City Workers’ Union Confederation.

This is the Union set up for people who don’t quite fit into any other Union’s categories. Maybe you have multiple roles or your work is very specialised. You’ll have to explain why you think this is the correct union for you when you go to their office.

Once again you need to register in person to Wanhua district and if necessary take along a Mandarin/ Taiwanese speaker. They have a one-off joining fee of NT$400 and the monthly dues are 180 NT. The Health and Labour Insurance dues – as they are set by the government – are the same (NT$1,216 and NT$642). They also require a print out of your exit and entry records to show how long you’ve been in the country (you can get this from the National Immigration Agency office).

One way that the second union differs from the first is – as the Union of people who work in multiple jobs – they will allow you to suspend your Health Insurance payments if one of your positions is offering to cover that for a period of time. This would mean that you are still able to stay enrolled in the Labour Insurance scheme.

Both Unions accept residents from all over Taiwan however if you are not based in the north it may be easier for you to find a local union. Contact your local government office to enquire about possible unions in your area.

How to ensure your workers are covered correctly

As an entrepreneur you may well employ a couple of local staff. No matter if you only have one worker they must be enrolled in the NHI scheme. This is the responsibility of the company. The sharing of costs is split as follows:

Company: 60% / Worker 30% / Government: 10%

So based on the minimum salary of NT$21,009:

NT$1,100/ NT$296/ NT$99

For more details and the method of calculation please visit the NHI’s website (English).

If there are less than five people in your company you are not legally required to enrol them in the Labour Insurance scheme. However, you may choose to do so voluntarily or arrange with your worker for them to enrol in a Labour Union. Here is a comparison of the costs:

If the Employer chooses to reach an agreement with a worker where the worker enrols in a Union and the Employer covers the monthly dues, plus the extra 40% that the worker will incur, they would save just over NT$600 a month on Labour Insurance costs per worker.

While this enrolment is not required by law it does do to bear in mind that these premiums accumulate over a worker’s entire working life and cover them for instances such as a pay-out in case of death and benefits for maternity leave, sickness or injury or disability and survivor’s benefits (payments made to the family in case of death) plus a funeral expenses grant. Finding a way to keep your local employees in the Labour Insurance scheme will likely be most appreciated by your employees.

Contact details

臺北市企劃經理人職業工會(Project Manager’s Labor Union of Taipei City)

電話/phone number 02-83691100

臺北市各業工人聯合會職業工會 Translation:Taipei City Workers’ Union Confederation.

電話/phone number 02-23121732

There is no website for this Union.