SEOUL, July 27 (Korea Bizwire) — There are concerns that high health insurance fees imposed on foreign students could hinder government efforts to promote study abroad programs in South Korea.
Professor Kim Myeong-kwang from Daegu University published a paper this Monday that claimed some 150,000 foreign students currently living in the country have been paying 43,490 won (US$37.80) – 38.5 percent of the monthly average health insurance fee of 113,050 won – since March of this year, after the government enacted legislation requiring foreign students to be covered by the National Health Insurance plan.
Kim said that foreign students had previously been paying around 10,000 won per month for private health insurance plans both individually or collectively.
Foreign students in Japan pay around 20,000 won, compared to 30,000 won in Taiwan, Kim said, arguing that South Korea needs to bring down the price of public health insurance.
Kim pointed out that the National Health Insurance Service garnered a surplus of 1.1 trillion won (US$956 million) from collecting insurance premiums from foreigners over the last five years, claiming that foreigners are enjoying few medical benefits compared to the amount they have been paying.
While South Korea decided to require foreigners to join the public health insurance plan to prevent illicit practices in which some temporarily signed up only to receive costly medical treatments and then leave the country, Kim said it goes against the policy’s initial intent since most foreign students stay in the country for more than two years.
M. H. Lee (email@example.com)