The South Korean government will expand health insurance benefits for pregnant women, the government said Thursday, in an effort to better tackle the country's chronic low birthrate.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said those who had given birth in the past 60 days will be able to benefit from changes to the national health insurance policy starting next month. So far, only pregnant women have been covered.
Also, the ministry and the National Health Insurance Corporation will provide an additional 500,000 won ($450) for medical costs. Those giving birth to twins or more than three children will receive support funds of 900,000 won, up from 700,000 won in the past.
The ministry said medical costs for infertility treatments, including three sets of artificial insemination and a maximum of four sets of external fertilization, will be covered by the state health insurance starting in October.
Medical costs for infertility treatments had so far been covered by national health insurance only for couples with low income. From now, any couple deemed to have difficulty after trying for more than the past one year can receive the benefits.
The number of newborn babies in South Korea dropped to a six-month low in June to 28,900 babies according to the data from Statistics Korea. It is the second-lowest monthly figure after just 27,200 kids were born in December last year. (Yonhap)