Updated on 21 June 2012
Reimbursements likely to overwhelm the country's finances
Singapore: Since 2000, South Korea has grown from a developing pharmaceutical market to one boasting of universal healthcare coverage and easy access to medical facilities; but is reimbursement going to overwhelm the country's finances? asks a new report by healthcare experts GlobalData.
According to the new report, the country's aging population may prove to be a demographic challenge for the South Korean government when combined with the health benefits it provides to its citizens.
South Korea has a compulsory National Health Insurance (NHI) system with universal coverage, which is unique in its functioning through a single insurer. The National Health Insurance Corporation (NHIC) covers almost the entire population, with medical fees established through negotiations between the NHIC and various other associations.
The insured are divided into two groups: employee insured and self-employed insured. The employee insured insurance scheme covers spouses, descendants, brothers or sisters, and direct lineal ascendants of the insured person. The self-employed insured insurance scheme covers people who are excluded from insured employment for a set contribution amount, based on the individual's income, property, living standard and rate of participation in economic activities. Foreigners working in South Korea are required to apply for coverage under the NHI.
However, as the average life expectancy in South Korea has increased, there has been a corresponding increase in medical expenditure for chronic diseases, which is likely to put additional pressure on its healthcare sector.