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W34tr spent on health insurance cover in 2010

The government spent nearly 34 trillion won ($30 billion) on health insurance cover last year.

The medical costs covered by the nation’s obligatory health insurance scheme were 33.7 trillion won last year, a 12.9 percent increase from 2009, the National Health Insurance Cooperation said Monday.

When considering those shared by individuals, the total amount reached 43.6 trillion won, up 4.2 trillion won from the previous year.

With concern deepening over the nation’s aging population, 32.2 percent of last year’s public health expenditure went to treatment of senior citizens aged 65 or older.

Health coverage for those aged over 85 also surpassed the 1 trillion won mark for the first time.

In Korea, which officially became an “aging society” in 2000, elderly people aged 65 or over made up 11 percent of the total population in 2010.

The monthly medical costs per person were 74,339 won, while an average citizen visited a clinic for 18.59 times last year, up 3.2 percent from 2009.

However, there was just a slight increase of 8.8 percent in the insurance contributions collected last year, the NHIC said. The insurance contribution per person was 29.765 won a month, up 7.8 percent from 2009.

Driven by the efforts to solve overdue payments, the collection rate recorded 97.5 percent, the highest since 2003.

Meanwhile, the number of foreign contributors to the health insurance scheme was 456,932, up from 400,670 in 2009. Of them, 61 percent lived in Seoul and the metropolitan area.

By Lee Ji-yoon (