SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Korea Bizwire) — Health care costs for foreigners covered by South Korea’s state health insurance have more than doubled over the past five years as more subscribe to the scheme, data showed Friday.
The total medical cost for covered foreigners came to 553 billion won (US$487 million) last year, up 109 percent from 2012, according to the data by the National Health Insurance Service and the Justice Ministry.
The amount is much larger than the 426 billion won paid by those covered foreigners in state health insurance premiums last year.
The health care cost climbed at an annual average rate of about 20 percent over the cited period.
Last year, 870,000 insured foreigners received treatment at local hospitals, with the number expanding 10.6 percent annually during the period.
As of 2016, nearly 884,000 foreigners, including South Koreans living abroad, were covered by the state health insurance program, with the number growing 11.2 percent annually between 2008 and 2016.
The number accounted for 1.7 percent of South Korea’s total population of 50.8 million covered by the government-run insurance program.
The health ministry has been strengthening health insurance coverage rules to prevent some foreigners and overseas Koreans from capitalizing on loopholes. Some foreigners and overseas Koreans are known to stay in the country temporarily and leave the country after receiving medical treatments without paying insurance fees.