Women Returning from US “Maternity Tours” Apply for Reimbursements up to NT$30 Million in Taiwan

Women Returning from US “Maternity Tours” Apply for Reimbursements up to NT$30 Million in Taiwan
Photo Credit: 柳柳嚴選

What you need to know

As US authorities raided “maternity hotels” in South California earlier this month, a number of Taiwanese pregnant women were also found traveling to the US to give birth via agencies. The agencies have been found to fabricate medical prescriptions for these women to claim medical insurance reimbursements in Taiwan. Three people have been brought up on charges of fraud and forgery.

Translated and compiled by Shin-wei Chang

South California has been a place where many Asian Americans choose to settle due to the warm weather in the region. These people have also brought various traditional customs into the region, including “maternity care.” Many “maternity hotels” have been opened in Irvine, which has been named as the safest city in the US by the FBI.

On March 4, the US authorities raided more than 30 “maternity hotels,” where pregnant women stay to receive care before and after giving birth. Most of the women are from China and some are from Taiwan.

According to CNN, about 10,000 of Chinese women gave birth in the US in 2012. On the other hand, the number of Taiwanese pregnant women giving birth in the US also rocketed in 2012. Apple Daily reports, the latter group claimed medical insurance reimbursements after returning to Taiwan.

CNN reports, in 2014 and 2015, over 1,000 pregnant women applied for reimbursements for emergency cesarean sections after traveling to the US. The reason to perform cesarean sections for about 180 pregnant women was “placenta previa,” in which the placenta grows over the cervix.

However, the incidence rate of “placenta previa” is lower than one to three hundred. In addition, after the embryo reaches 28 weeks, the placenta is not likely to be unstable. Most of the women went to the US after being 33-weeks pregnant without showing any sign of placenta previa in Taiwan.

Sensing something wrong with this, prosecutors called in 34 people out of the 180 pregnant women for questioning on March 23. The authorities found that all of the 34 women booked “maternity tours” through agencies like Liu Liu and US Baby.

To attract more clients, some of the agencies claimed they were acquainted with some doctors in the US. The agencies said they could fabricate medical prescriptions, allowing their clients to apply for medical insurance reimbursements in Taiwan.

Apple Daily reports, the total amount of the reimbursements is estimated to be up to NT$30 million (approximately US$920,000).

On March 23, the police carried out a raid on the two agencies, Liu Lin and US Baby, on fraud and forgery. They found evidence, including a list of the thousands of pregnant women who went to the US to give birth, and the proprietors of Liu Liu and US Baby along with an insurance salesperson were brought to the prosecutors.

None of them have confessed to the crimes so far.

Some women have shared their experience online, revealing the cost for Taiwanese pregnant women to have their babies in the US. In average, a cesarean section costs from US$2,000 to US$4,600. However in Hoag Hospital, a hospital known for its maternity care service in Los Angeles, the whole package of a “maternity tour” costs up to US$10,750.

An article titled “Spending 300,000 for an US citizenship” includes the rates of US Baby. It reveals that it costs approximately US$3,000 for giving birth in the US. Moreover, after getting back to Taiwan, new mothers can apply for a reimbursement of NT$18,000 (approximately US$550) for a natural birth, and NT$34,000 (approximately US$10,000) for a cesarean section.

Edited by Olivia Yang

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Apple Daily
China Times
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“Feds Fight ‘maternity tourism’ with raids on California ‘maternity hotels’” (CNN)