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Intro to Korean Health Insurance

Intro to Korean Health Ins...

National Health Insurance… A Brief History
The efforts to introduce a social security system in Korea went back to the early 1960s with the legislation of various laws related to social security and protection. Especially, significant progresses in the field were made during the 1970s when the government initiated the medical insurance programs. In 1977, the medical insurance program for employees of private companies was introduced. In 1979, another similar insurance program was implemented for public servants and private school employees. It, however, was not until 1988 that the medical insurance program was extended to all the self-employed in rural areas, and not until 1989 that the program for all the self-employed in urban areas was implemented.

The National Health Insurance Program
The NHI program of Korea covers the whole population as a compulsory social insurance system. Its main sources of finance are contributions from the insured and government subsidy. The benefit package consists of benefits in-kind and benefits in-cash on the whole. When people get health care services through the NHI program, co-payments are applied according to types of health care institutions.  The application of the Program to Foreigners working in Korea is governed by the same laws that govern Korean workers: there is no difference in the eyes of the Law between Koreans and Foreigners on the issue of the National Health Insurance Program.

If you are a documented foreign resident (not a tourist or undocumented worked) you can enroll in the Korean National Health Insurance plan. A law passed a few years ago requires that all foreign workers be enrolled in the NHI system, although there are some exceptions. If the company is providing international medical coverage, it does not need to re-insure it's foreign staff. Some local companies are also exempted because of their size, etc. However, anyone wishing to enroll in the NIHS system, can do so - the cost is much lower than medical insurance plans in many Western countries.

The rates are adjusted each spring to reflect any changes in salary, bonuses, etc. since they are based on a percentage of earnings. This adjustment will be reflected in the April contribution. The April increase (should there be one) is not part of the annual contribution rise; it is a reflection of a rise in the contributor's income. The increase also occurs if the employer declared a lower salary over the past year than what was actually paid and is based on each employee's year-end tax settlement (end March). Should the salary be lower than what was declared, the contributor's rate will decrease in April.

For more information and additional details on the health insurance plan and how it may affect you, scroll down and click on the various topics listed. 
Contact NHIC: visit NHIC website.
Customer Service Telephone: Monday to Friday 9AM-6PM (except for statutory holidays)
Main Number 1577-1000
Foreign Language Number: 1577-1000 Speed dial number 7 or 033-811-2000 (Chinese, English, Vietnamese)
From outside Korea: 82-2-390-2000
Korean speakers overseas: 82-33-811-2001

K4E Editor: We try to make the information on as complete and accurate as possible, so if you notice any errors or omissions in the content above, please let us know at

Last Updated on 2019-03-11

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