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Medical fees to go down at designated clinics

The government has decided to discount medical fees for people who designate neighborhood clinics as their primary care facilities, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said Wednesday. The new system comes into effect starting in April.

Currently, 70 percent of outpatient medical expenses are covered by the national health insurance program, but for those who register a nearby clinic as their primary care unit the coverage will be increased to 80 percent, leaving only 20 percent up to the patients, the ministry said.

The plan is intended to encourage people to receive regular and intensive care at local clinics instead of large or general hospitals.

Meanwhile, starting in July, 50 percent of denture expenses for seniors over 75 years old will be covered by the national insurance program. Fees for partial dentures will be partially covered from 2013.

Also, from April, the medical subsidy for pregnant women will increase to 500,000 won ($434) from the current 400,000 won.

Pregnant women should submit certificates of pregnancy to the National Health Insurance Corporation, KB or Shinhan banks, to get vouchers. Vouchers are usable at selected medical institutions and the list is available at