In July 2019, South Korea implemented a revised national health insurance policy to enhance South Koreans’ equity and foreigners in South Korea. However, at the Education Ministry’s request, the application for the national health insurance policy for international students was delayed by the health and welfare ministry until February 2021. Recently, the Health and Welfare Ministry has published a notice regarding implementing the National Health Insurance Policy. This notice lists the criteria for applying for National Health Insurance, which foreigners in South Korea and South Koreans who are overseas for the long-term need to meet. Understanding what the policy is, how it works, and its requirement is crucial for an international student in South Korea.
What Should You Know About Health Insurance in South Korea?
When you are planning to study abroad, it is crucial to understand every aspect of the country that you will be living n for the foreseeable future. Hence, it would be best to keep the national health insurance policy in South Korea in mind. In South Korea, national health insurance is compulsory and provided by the National Health Insurance Corporation. Any individual living in South Korea are eligible for this insurance regardless of their nationality.
What is the National Health Insurance Program?
The National Health Insurance Corporation has designed insurance for South Koreans who are overseas and foreigners living in South Korea for more than one year. Under this insurance policy, foreigners, spouses, and children below the age of 20 are eligible for insurance. To apply for the insurance, the foreigner needs to verify their reason for stay and produce their alien registration card.
How Does the National Health Insurance Program Work?
The National Health Insurance is funded by government subsidy and by the beneficiaries of the policy. There are several benefits that this health insurance policy offers, which can be in-cash or in-kind. Whether it is a Korean citizen or a froing student in Korea, both receive the same benefits from the national health insurance program. There is no way to differentiate between a South Korean citizen and an international student under this policy, and each individual receives the same care and benefits.
Why Was the Implementation Delayed?
After the declaration of the new policy, it faced a lot of criticism. According to this new rule, international students in South Korea would now, on average, need to pay an additional 113,050 won every month to cover the insurance premium. The amount was quite a jump from the 10,000 won students would need to pay when private insurers cover them through their host University. Hence, this new rule would cause a substantial financial strain on international students in South Korea. Although the premium costs were subsequently cut down by 50%, there were still calls to exempt international students from the new policy. Ultimately, the government decided to delay the implementation of the rule.
When Will the New Policy Be Implemented?
According to the recent notice, the National Health Insurance Policy will be implemented from 1st March. International students, as well as trainees, will need to enroll under the national health policy. However, the insurance cost will vary depending on the nature and duration of stay for each individual.
International students enrolled in a University (here under the D-2 visa). Those students who are enrolled in elementary, middle, or high school (here under the D-3 visa), who will be staying in South Korea for more than two years are required to enroll themselves into the National Health Insurance policy from the day they arrive to ensure that there is no gap in health insurance coverage. This also holds for South Korean students who are overseas. However, if they are trainees or will not be staying abroad for more than six months, they are exempt from this rule.
How will premium costs be calculated?
The insurance cost was one of the main reasons for the delay in implementing the new policy. The government had decided to delay implementing the rule to listen to the various sectors’ grievances and come up with a compromise. Additionally, due to the Covid-19 pandemic’s difficulties, the government has decided to charge students who register by 2021 only 30% of the premium and increase it by 10% every year until 2023.
Hence, the aim is to ensure that there is not too much financial burn on international students. By increasing it a little every year, they can ensure that the insurance is not too expensive from the get-go. Implementing the policy in this manner will alleviate the burden of Covid-19 and help ensure that people are more willing to co-operate in the implementation of the policy.
Can People opt for Private Insurance?
In addition to the national health insurance, an international student can also opt to get an insurer by a private company to receive more comprehensive insurance. Students can either search for a private insurance company on their own or opt for one through their University.
How Can the Ministry help international students?
Due to the criticism faced when the policy was initially proposed, the government had to delay it by two-years. Now, however, they plan to make the process easier for international students to access. They have reduced insurance costs for the first year, but they also plan to increase it only by a little every year. More importantly, the cost will be calculated to suit every individual’s needs, their length and nature of stay as well. Hence, this ensures a fair price for every individual.
Additionally, the ministry plans to streamline the process to make it easier for international students to receive health insurance as soon as possible. The ministry will also provide students with guidance and aid to help them understand how to complete each process.