S. Korea mandates foreign residents to enroll in national health insurance

2019.06.13 14:05:45 | 2019.06.13 15:25:18

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To prevent free-riding and other loopholes on health insurance coverage, overseas residents as well as foreign nationals residing six months or longer in Korea are required to enroll in the national health insurance program from July 16 to receive any benefit.

The National Health Insurance Service said Thursday that enrollment in national health insurance program will become mandatory for foreigners without an employer insurance plan and staying in Korea for six months or longer under revised law. The new law will take effect on July 16.

Korean nationals residing abroad but on a six-month or longer visit to the country are also subject to the change. Foreigners with a student visa or married to a Korean also need to enroll in the national health insurance.

Those subject to enrollment in the national health insurance program will be required to pay an insurance premium of minimum 113,050 won ($95.27) per month, which is equivalent to the average amount Korean nationals pay on non-employer scheme. The insurance premium will vary depending on the foreign household’s income and assets.

Until now, enrollment in the national health insurance program was optional for foreigners, allowing them to enroll if they stayed three months or longer and take full benefits. This has stirred up controversy as there have been cases of abusing the system by foreigners who receive expensive medical treatments on a small sum of health insurance premiums then flee abroad.

An estimated 104,309 overseas-residing Koreans used up 42 billion won worth health insurance last year without paying any premiums.

The National Health Insurance Service projects 400,000 foreign residents in Korea will enroll in the health insurance program under the revised rule.

By Chung Seok-woo and Cho Jeehyun

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