SEOUL, Jun. 7 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea said Thursday it will strengthen regulations in the country’s health insurance program to prevent foreigners from taking advantage of a loophole in the system.
The minimum stay requirement to receive benefits from the national insurance program will be extended from the current three months to six months, and all those who stay in the country for more than six months will be required to sign up for the program, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
The ministry did not give any specific timeframe for when the strengthened regulations will take effect.
Currently, foreigners who stay in the country for more than three months can voluntarily join the national health insurance program.
The ministry will also give penalties in granting stay permits or re-entering the country for those who fail to pay insurance fees.
The latest move comes amid an increasing number of foreigners as well as overseas Koreans visiting South Korea temporarily and leaving after receiving medical treatment without paying insurance fees.
As of last year, 913,000 foreigners, including South Koreans living abroad, had signed up for the state health insurance program.