This study identifies and analyzes issues in Korea’s public health finance so as to determine possible solutions for the current problems of the national health insurance system.
The importance of public health services and programs as key support systems of Korea’s citizenry cannot be overemphasized, now that the Korean economy is growing so dramatically. Public health amounted to 2.7 percent of Korea’s gross national product (GNP) in 1970, and grew to 3.4 percent by 1977. In December 1976, the Korean legislature enacted major legislation on public health and its financing. The national health insurance system and related services have come a long way thanks to economic development and popular support over the last 15 years.
Despite the outward growth of public health and national health insurance programs, the mortality rate in Korea still remains high, comparable to those of the Philippines and Indonesia. The fact that the mortality rate is especially high among women, children under five, and people their 40s and older highlights the inadequacies of public health services in this country. The elderly, specifically, have emerged as the group most in need of public health services.
Public health benefits are divided not only along age lines, but also by region of residence, and income. As Korea provides its public health services via both private-sector and public channels, residents of small-to-medium cities have been the biggest beneficiaries, enjoying relatively greater access to quality medical services. The Korean government needs to ensure more fair access of its public health services first by establishing a long-term policy on public health finance and national health insurance, and also by advancing the education and training of healthcare practitioners and healthcare workers.
In 1977, Korea spent KRW 57.12 billion on health care, 3.4 percent of the GNP of that year, or KRW 15,800 (USD 30) per capita. Considering that the cost of public health care was USD 23 per capita a year ago, significant improvement appears to have been made, yet this figure is still quite low compared to Japan’s USD 233 per capita and the United States’ USD 646 per capita. However, indiscriminate expansion of public health programs and services may cause inflation to worsen. Policymakers therefore need to focus on key areas of the healthcare system that require investment and improvement. Most importantly, more healthcare and medical facilities need to be developed so as to remove economic barriers to healthcare services and make public healthcare available to all Koreans.
한국의 보건재정과 의료보험(Korea’s public health finance and national health insurance)
|Series Title; No||연구총서|
|Subject Country||South Korea(Asia and Pacific)|
|Subject||Social Development < Health|
|Holding||KDI; KDI School|