SEJONG, May 12 (Korea Bizwire) — Starting in July, foreign students could end up paying about seven times more for health insurance premiums as they do now as a revised law requires them to join the state health insurance system if their stay in South Korea exceeds six months.
So far, most foreign students have used private health insurance policies that cost about 100,000-110,000 won (US$85-$94) a year.
But under a revision of the National Health Insurance Act set to take effect on July 16, all foreigners, including students, must join the state insurance system if they stay in South Korea for six months or longer.
State health insurance premiums are about 678,000 won a year.
The law was revised to prevent foreigners from abusing the state insurance system as there have been cases in which foreigners entered the country and joined the system by paying a small amount in insurance fees with the aim of getting expensive treatments.
Universities have called for exempting students from the law.
“It would be a big burden for students from developing countries,” a university official said, adding that even though the state insurance system offers greater benefits than private policies, most students in their 20s wouldn’t need extensive health care.
The education ministry said it will ask the health ministry to exempt foreign students from the mandatory subscription to the national health insurance system.
Health ministry officials said they will conduct a review if there is an official request from the education ministry, but added that such an exemption should have been included at the time of the law’s revision.