The Korea Herald


Health insurance coverage set to require foreigners to stay over 6 months

Change in insurance law likely to take effect in March

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : Oct. 26, 2023 - 15:07

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Starting next year, foreigners must reside for at least six months in South Korea to receive health insurance coverage as dependents of the actual subscribers.

A revision to the Health Insurance Act, which stipulates that foreigners must "stay in Korea for at least six months" to be registered as dependents of a worker living in Korea, received approval from a parliamentary subcommittee on Sept. 21 and is currently under review by the Legislation and Judiciary Committee.

Direct family members of a worker in South Korea, regardless of their nationality, can be registered as dependents of the health insurance subscriber only if they earn less than 20 million won ($14,700) a year.

A bill to revise the law was suggested to stop foreign workers' family members from receiving health insurance coverage if they do not actually live in Korea.

There have been many cases of foreign family members, including parents of the subscribers of Korea's universal health insurance system, visiting Korea to receive health insurance benefits such as treatment and surgery despite not living here, according to reports.

The bill, however, will allow underage children and spouses of foreign workers to be covered by the nation health insurance before residing in Korea for six months. The exception is also set to be applied to foreigners who immigrated after marrying a Korean national or who hold a student visa.

Considering that the revision will take effect three months after its promulgation, it is expected to be implemented from as early as March next year after passing the plenary session at the end of the year.