Obtaining National Health Insurance in Korea
There are two tracks through which you can buy national medical insurance. The first is the “Employee track” and the second is the “Area track,” which is for individuals. The Area track program currently covers around fifteen million people, while the Employee track covers around thirty-five million people, including employees as well as their dependents.
As of now, “Area Track,” insurance can be purchased by legal foreign residents who do not buy it through their employers.
The main visa which allows people to come to Korea without prior employment or study plans is the F-4 visa, which is open to ethnically Korean or “Gyopo” citizens of certain countries.
They can enter Korea and immediately purchase insurance as long as they start with the mandatory minimum of three month’s worth of insurance.
This is controversial, as it enables an F-4 visa holder to visit Korea and pay only for the minimum three months of insurance and immediately undergo expensive medical procedures with the full coverage allowed by the system.
Regardless, if you are eligible for this the national insurance and don’t have it already, you should sign up immediately.
The Employee track insurance is a bit cheaper than the Area track insurance and is only able to be purchased after the employee’s first month of employment, which must constitute a minimum of eighty working-hours.
Thanks to Korea’s world-class medical treatment standards, people now come from all over the world to receive treatment here.
Some individuals have tried to game the system by creating fake employment contracts, enabling the tourists to undergo their desired procedures for less money.
If you are a legal resident of Korea and eligible for the national health care system, be sure to look into receiving preventive health care procedures, such as endoscopes, during your stay.
This procedure can be vastly more expensive in other countries, such as the United States.
There it could cost anywhere from four to five million won and you may have to make an appointment months in advance.
Here insurance holders can undergo this procedure with almost no notice and it only costs approximately W100,000 to W200,000 if a doctor decided it is necessary.
You should also keep in mind that the National Health Insurance System does not cover all costs and procedures.
It tends to cover the majority of costs for procedures that give the most bang for the buck.
For example, it will likely cover 50% of your X-ray cost, but it probably won’t cover any MRI or CAT scan costs.
As procedures get more expensive, they are less likely to get covered.
One exception is most types of cancer treatment, which are usually covered for the most part.
For more detailed information visit nihc.or.kr or call 02-390-2000 for English language assistance.