The National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) said it would run more foreigner support centers to prepare for a mandatory subscription of the national health insurance program for expatriates who stay for six months or longer in Korea.
From July 16, foreigners and Koreans with foreign citizenships who resided in the country for over six months must enroll for the state healthcare program and pay monthly premiums. The change aims to prevent foreigners from taking advantage of the health insurance program to get expensive treatments and leave the country.
|Sung Baek-gil, senior director at the Department of Eligibility and Imposition in the NHIS, speaks during a news conference in Seoul on Tuesday|
Sung Baek-gil, senior director at the Department of Eligibility and Imposition in the NHIS, met with reporters in Seoul on Tuesday to explain about the upcoming change in the mandatory subscription of the health insurance for foreigners and Koreans with foreign citizenships.
Foreigners will receive eligibility for the health insurance program depending on the address of their residency. They can pay insurance premiums individually.
The premiums will be based on their income and asset. If the premium is set below the average of the entire subscribers as of November of the previous year, the premium will be determined at the median. In November last year, the average monthly health insurance premium was 113,050 won ($94.5).
An overdue payment of insurance premiums will limit not only health insurance benefits but visa extension.
The NHIS said it would operate more foreigner support centers in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province to minimize confusion.
“The NHIS had a 9 billion won surplus in operating the program for foreigners in 2017. This means that foreigners had insurance-covered treatments less than they could. They hardly have to do with the NHIS’ suffering of a deficit,” Sung said.
As for the sudden increase of the burden on international students, he said the government was searching for a solution together with the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Education, he said.
“In Germany, foreign students pay about 120,000 won insurance premium per month. We will find out how much premiums other countries charge on foreign students,” he added.
There are about 140,000 international students in Korea. Most of them use a private insurance program mediated through their universities and pay about 10,000 won in monthly insurance premiums.
To prevent expats from abusing the health insurance to get expensive treatments while paying only a small amount of contribution, the government would find a way to impose monthly insurance premiums on foreigners “no matter what,” he said.
“This requires a legal revision. So, we should discuss this with related authorities.”