The costs are likely to rise as the Park Geun-hye administration last year announced that the national insurance program will gradually broaden its coverage of expenses related to “four major diseases” by 2017.
The illnesses are: cancer, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and a total of 138 yet-to-be cured conditions such as Crohn’s disease.
South Korea has universal health insurance and nearly all citizens are beneficiaries of the program.
Provided by a compulsory National Health Insurance Service (NHIS), which is the only public insurance institution run by the Health Ministry, every resident in the country is eligible for the insurance regardless of their profession.
To help minimize additional expenses for patients, while also broadening its coverage of the “four major diseases,” the Park administration announced in February that it would reduce the number of doctors who are allowed to charge extra for selected treatment to 3,300 from 9,900 by 2017.
As President Park promised during the presidential election campaign in 2012, the government has been trying to avoid increasing health insurance fees for the last two years. Insurance costs were only raised by 1.7 percent this year. Last year, it was raised by 1.6 percent.
To extend the “four major diseases” benefits by 2017, the Park administration set aside 2.1 trillion won ($2.05 billion).
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)