‘Moon Jae-in care’ raises concerns over finances

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Aug 10, 2017 - 17:27
  • Updated : Aug 10, 2017 - 17:30
President Moon Jae-in’s plans to greatly expand National Health Insurance coverage is raising concerns over costs.

Dubbed “Moon Jae-in Care,” the 30.6 trillion won ($26.76 billion) plan will be executed in stages until 2022, and will see the National Health Insurance cover 70 percent of the costs of medical treatment. In addition, coverage will be expanded to include most medical procedures and tests. According to the government’s calculations, the changes will cut costs arising from currently exempt procedures and tests by 64 percent by 2022. 

President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)

The plans announced Wednesday have been met by criticism from opposition parties that say the financing provisions are insufficient.

While agreeing with the general direction of the plans, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party accused Moon of offering populist policies, saying that the plans are unachievable.

“(The plans) could give the people an unnecessary fantasy. Achieving the goals by 2022 is a fantasy,” Liberty Korea Party Floor Leader Rep. Chung Woo-taik said in a radio interview Thursday.

Rep. Kim Tae-heum of the same party went a step further, describing the plans as “stereotypical populism” and saying that the Moon Jae-in administration was “wearing the mask of an angel.”

The more moderate conservative Bareun Party took a similar tone, saying that the plans are “drastic and unrealistic” and that the planned changes would cripple the NHI’s finances.

Moon responded by directly refuting the accusations, reiterating the view that welfare is a growth strategy.

“The Ministry of Strategy and Finance was closely consulted, and the financing plans were reviewed thoroughly,” Moon said at Thursday’s meeting with presidential aides.

“The plans are constructed to be rolled out in stages by 2022 to maintain healthy finances.”

At the meeting, Moon also requested his aides to come up with strategies to create jobs by improving state welfare.

While the opposition turned up the heat on the administration, the ruling Democratic Party of Korea is moving quickly. It revealed plans to revise the National Health Insurance Act during the parliamentary session in September.

The party also plans to propose a new act required to provide financial aid when medical costs are between 10 and 40 percent of a patient’s annual income for individuals who earn below the median income.

By Choi He-suk (