SEOUL, Nov. 23 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korean households’ medical expenses are much higher than the average for members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development despite a continued downturn, data showed Friday.
Households’ expenditures accounted for 33.3 percent of South Korea’s total medical expenses in 2016, according to the data from the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs based on an analysis of the 2018 OECD health statistics.
The number was higher than the OECD average of 20.3 percent, though it was down from 34.6 percent five years earlier.
It was the fourth-highest tally among OECD member nations. Latvia had the highest number of 45 percent, followed by Mexico with 40.4 percent and Greece with 34.3 percent. France boasted the lowest at 9.8 percent.
The institute attributed South Korea’s high percentage to a large number of treatments that aren’t covered by the state health insurance plan. In addition, patients had to pay between 20 percent and 60 percent of expenses to cover treatments.
In contrast, public money, including taxes and health insurance premiums, made up 58.2 percent of South Korea’s total medical costs in 2017, much lower than the OECD average of 73.5 percent.
In line with its efforts to reduce the financial burdens of patients, the Moon Jae-in administration announced an overhaul of the health care program that focused on greatly expanding its coverage.
South Koreans are required to join the health insurance system, and foreigners living in South Korea can also subscribe to the system. The number of people covered by the National Health Insurance system was 52.43 million at the end of 2017.