[Photo by Kim Jae-hoon]
Foreign nationals would have to pay for COVID-19 treatment in South Korea as the government has decided to fix the free coverage amid ballooning bill.
The government will push for a revision of related laws to make foreigners to pay for treatment when their infection is confirmed during a quarantine period after entry, according to Park Neung-hoo, Minister of Health and Welfare on Sunday. The change will initially be applied to those who violate self-quarantine rules.
Under the current law, the costs of COVID-19 testing and medical intervention of people in Korea are covered by the Korean government regardless of their nationality, but critics say this system can cause a moral hazard problem.
A revised bill is already motioned at the National Assembly. Charging will be made under the principle of reciprocity considering diplomatic relations. Only 15 counties including Australia, Brazil and Britain are covering treatment expenses for COVID-19 infected people regardless of their nationality.
Since June, COVID-19 cases imported from overseas have increased fast. On Sunday, Korea reported 58 new cases, 46 imported from overseas and 12 locally transmitted.
By Kim Yeon-joo and Minu Kim
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