SEOUL, May 8 (Korea Bizwire) — Controversy is rising after several local authorities promised to subsidize the cost of treatment for young Koreans suffering from hair loss.
The Saha District Council in Busan passed an ordinance on Wednesday to provide partial or full subsidies to young district residents undergoing treatment for hair loss, marking the first time in the city.
Seoul’s Seongdong District has also been providing up to 200,000 won (US$151) per year to cover 50 percent of the purchasing cost of hair loss treatment for district residents under 39 years of age.
The city of Boryeong in South Chungcheong Province has been providing up to 500,000 won per year to provide full coverage of hair loss treatment for residents under 49 years of age.
Daegu is currently considering subsidies for hair loss treatment, while Seoul has also submitted an ordinance bill that subsidizes hair loss treatment for young residents.
Supporters of hair loss subsidies argue that since hair loss negatively affects employment, marriage, and other social activities, it should be treated as a social problem.
Kang Hyun-shik, a Saha district councilor responsible for proposing the bill for hair loss subsidies, said that the new subsidies will “help young residents with their social and economic activities and prevent depression and other mental illnesses.”
Data from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service showed that the total number of individuals suffering from hair loss in South Korea grew from 334,723 in 2019 to 335,437 in 2020 and 349,797 in 2021.
Among them, those between the ages of 20 and 34 grew from 75,227 in 2019 to 76,625 in 2020 and 78,167 in 2021.
Some experts question whether hair loss is a disease that requires national attention and argue that other pressing social problems like unemployment, housing, childcare, and other welfare programs should be addressed first.
“Normally, policies like subsidizing medical treatment result in a surge in demand, pushing the budget to the limit,” said Han Seong-ho, a professor of family medicine at Dong-a University Hospital.
“If one local municipality begins to provide subsidies, it is inevitable that others have to follow. This, in turn, will result in the government paying for them.”
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)