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Health Insurance Summary

Health Insurance Summary

The following is a partial summary of the information contained in the section on Heath Insurance  

Korean Law requires that all foreign workers, including teachers, be covered by the National Health Insurance Corporation. However whether the employer is obligated to submit the application to the NHIC or the foreign worker has to do take responsibility her/himself, depends on a number of conditions.  

Coverage: National Health Insurance covers medical treatment (illness, preventing injuries, diagnosis, treatment, rehavilitation, birth, dealth, etc) and medical checks/physicals every two (2) years (for non-office job categories yearly physicals may be covered).
Hospitalization: 80% of cost covered by NHIC.
Outpatient care: 50%-80% of costs covered.
Childbirth: costs subsidized by the NIHC. Fixed sum paid in cash.
Pre-natal care: a medical subsidy card available - Kookmin Hangbok Card (국민행복카드) 
Death: NHIC pays fixed amount.

Eligibility: The eligibility rules for foreign workers are basically the same as for Korean employees.
This means that employers are not required to provide coverage for employees in certain circumstances:
- if the employee works less than 60 hours per month  mandatory for those working 80 plus hours/month).
- if there are fewer than 5 foreign employees.

Cancellation/Withdrawal: An employeer cannot cancel an employee's coverage unless the employee has left Korea for more than one month. NIHC will cancel the coverage when it receives notice from immigration. Coverage terminates the day after permanent departure from Korean. Withdrawal is permitted only when departing Korea permanently.

Self-employed coverage The National Health Insurance scheme includes a process by which the self-employed are also covered. 

Self-insuring employees: Foreign employees working for an employer who is not required to provide coverage can obtain their own health insurance card through this mechanism.

The insurance benefits are the same for foreign residents and Korean nationals.

Employee contributions are calculated by multiplying monthly wages by the employee category contribution rate. The employer and the employee each pay 50%. 
Self-employed contributions are also based on a percentage. However if the income is unknown or if the estimated contribution is below the average self-employed contribution, the average contribution of the category for the previous year will be imposed.

Delayed Enrollment: If a foreign national who has been in Korea for some time decides to obtain National Health Insurance coverage, the initial premium payment will cover the period from the date of her/his alien registration or from when he/she has been in the country for one full month. If the foreign national has gone in and out but if all of the trip were of less than one month's duration, the premium will be from the initial foreign residency date. In the case of overseas Koreans with foreign citizenship, premiums are calculated from the date on which they make their domestic residency report.

The NHIC card may be refused by private clinics and hospitals, but not by government operated clinics and hospitals. You may to confirm that the clinic or hospital you plan to attend does accept the NHIC coverage if you do not have another medical plan or don’t want to pay for treatment out of your own pocket. Do be prepared, however, to have to pay a deposit, even a hefty one, before receiving any treatment – most institutes accept credit cards as well as cash. (See What is Covered in this section)

Korean health insurance can be used only in Korea and does not cover you when you travel outside the country. Private medical insurance policies and travel insurance can be purchased in Korea if you don’t already have a global insurance plan – check out the K4E Directory for some options

If you have private health insurance, it is important to note that most medical practitioners and hospitals do not accept the premise of directly billing private health insurance, whether it is from an overseas or domestic firm. They usually demand payment before treatment and clients have to settle with their company for a re-imbursement after the fact. It is therefore very important for you to make sure that insurance and/or funds are available in case you need medical attention.

For further information, visit the links mentioned above, go to the NHIS website or contact their Call Center: 02-390-2000 (English Customer Service for Seoul, Gyeonggi Province, Incheon City, Gangwon Province - check with them for contact details for other areas also).

Editor's Note: The information above is based on the information K4E has available at the time of writing. Given how difficult it is to obtain clear and complete information in Korea as well as how quickly rules can change, please see this as a guide and do follow-up with the appropriate Korean government bodies to confirm its accuracy and/or to get the most current answers. K4E would appreciate your feedback should you find out that our information is out-of-date. Contact us at

Last Updated on 2017-01-10

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