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Taiwan court rules banning doctors from advertising unconstitutional

Medical law bans non-medical institutions, not doctors, from advertising care

Taiwan's Judicial Yuan, where the court sits. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Taiwan's Judicial Yuan, where the court sits. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s constitutional court ruled that the use of an article in the country’s medical law to fine a doctor for advertising healthcare services was unconstitutional on Friday (Nov. 3).

A doctor named Huang (黃) was fined NT$50,000 for a Facebook post he made in 2015 advertising medical treatment, per CNA. The fine was imposed on the grounds that article 84 of Taiwan’s medical law states: “Non-medical care institutions shall not make advertisements for medical care.”

After considering the case, the constitutional court ruled that article 84 of the medical law ran contrary to articles in the constitution guaranteeing free speech and freedom to work. The ruling said that for this reason, the article will no longer be effective going forward.

Huang first challenged the fine in the administrative court, which referred the case up to the constitutional court, who then sought the opinion of the health ministry and the Taiwan Medical Association. The association said they supported a ban on non-medical “institutions” from advertising medical care, but said that if this was used to restrict doctors from advertising, it lacked legitimacy.

However, the ministry’s opinion was that medical advertisement is not related to the expression of belief, and is based on the public interest. It said the restriction on non-medical institutions advertising care was in line with the principle of proportionality.

The ruling means that doctors are allowed to advertise medical care going forward. Until further laws are created, doctors will be subject to the same advertising regulations as medical institutions.

Non-medical personnel and non-medical institutions are still prohibited from advertising medical care.