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S. Korea to revise health insurance coverage for foreign workers

South Korea will revise health insurance coverage for foreign workers starting in October to prevent the misuse of benefits, the government said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare and National Health Insurance Corporation said under the changes, foreign nationals who enter the country on a work visa must wait three months before they can apply for health insurance.

The move aims to make it impossible for foreigners to enter the country, get health insurance without making any contributions themselves, and then opt to leave upon getting treatment.

As a rule, foreign nationals who enter the country have to wait three months before they are eligible for insurance coverage and they have to make monthly payments on the 25th of every month afterwards for the coverage to be valid. This rule, however, does not apply to people with work visas, those entering the country to study, and those married to a South Korean citizen.


In addition, the government even gives 30-50 percent discounts to foreign nationals depending on what kind of visas they hold. A person holding a D-2 study visa can get 50 percent off in terms of the insurance payments they have to make.

From 2012 through 2014, this preferential health insurance payment arrangement equaled 4 billion won ($3.3 million) in savings for foreigners, with some 101,162 people and households paying less, it said.

"Under the changes, people with work visas will be excluded from the early preferential benefit scheme, and will have to wait like the others," the ministry said.

Those entering the country to study and people married to a South Korean citizen can still benefit from the preferential arrangement.

The ministry said from 2011 to June of this year, 258,249 foreigners, including ethnic Koreans holding foreign citizenships, received some 20.78 billion won worth of healthcare services without paying the proper share of insurance premiums. (Yonhap)

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