Korea’s medical spending growth fastest in OECD scale

2018.05.03 14:47:20 | 2018.05.03 14:49:31

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The healthcare cost of South Korea - one of the fastest aging societies in the world - rose 6.8 percent from 2005 to 2015, tripling the average growth rate of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)`s member countries.

According to a report released by Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs on Wednesday, Korea’s general medical expenses increased by 6.8 percent on average every year between 2005 and 2015, compared with a pace of 2.1 percent among OECD members.

The general medical expense refers to health care expenditure excluding investments such as establishing medical centers and adding medical facilities. It is used to compare health care cost among countries.

During the cited period, Japan’s general medical expense grew by 2.6 percent per annum and that of Germany was up 2.3 percent, trailed by Canada with 1.7 percent, France 1.1 percent, and Switzerland 1.0 percent.

Korea’s costs for medical care rose 4.2 percent from 2014 to 2015 to rank the third-highest among OECD members. Turkey topped the list with a 6.2 percent growth rate and Latvia the second with 4.8 percent. Over the same period, France’s medical expenses shrank 0.2 percent, Ireland down 0.3 percent, and Japan 0.8 percent lower.

The per capita medical cost of Korea also grew rapidly to average at 7.6 percent in the 2005-2016 period and showed a big gap with other developed nations. The average annual costs per person rose at a rate of 4.2 percent in the United Kingdom, 3.4 percent in Japan, the United States 3.0 percent and Canada 2.3 percent.

Korea’s general health care expenditure surged to 125.2 trillion won ($116.4 billion) in 2016 from 7.3 trillion won in 1990, according to government statistics data. The ratio of medical care spending to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) stood at 7.7 percent in 2016 while that of OECD members averaged at 9.0 percent. But the national or public healthcare expenditure made up 56.4 percent of the total medical cost burden, compared with 72.5 percent average of OECD members, suggesting that it costs more for individual Koreans to use medical services.

By Kim Hye-soon and Cho Jeehyun

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