A state agency is pressuring the government to change the current health insurance premium system so that public officials are levied the same amount of payments as those in the private sector.
The National Health Insurance Service said on Sunday that it requested the Finance Ministry to review the current practice of charging health insurance costs to public workers, as the insurance agency estimates that the government employees together have been given a discount of about 81 billion won ($79.8 million) in health insurance premiums every year since 2011.
In 2011, the Ministry of Government Legislation decided not to include public servants’ position-linked allowances and welfare benefits when calculating their health insurance premiums, arguing they are not “wages” for their labor but “compensation for their work expenses,” such as transportation costs.
In 2011, some 45,000 public servants received allowances ranging from 400,000 won to 900,000 won every month, which were excluded from the calculation for health insurance fees. The government also spent some 652.4 billion won last year on special allowances for public servants with specific missions, such as secret service men and statutory auditors, in a total of 55 state-run institutions including Cheong Wa Dae, the National Intelligence Service, the National Police Agency and the National Tax Service.
The decision triggered criticism that it is unfair for private sector workers, who are required to pay health insurance premiums based on their entire salary, including all benefits and allowances.
According to the HNIS, private sector workers on average pay some 25,000 won more than their public sector counterparts in their monthly insurance premiums.
By Claire Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)