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Healthcare and Medical Treatment

South Korea - Healthcare and Medical Treatment

Although health care in South Korea is not free, it is heavily subsidized by the government and is very cheap compared to the United States. For expat workers who have a medical insurance card (this is required), it is even less expensive (although still not free).

Most doctors speak at least some English, typically peppered with medical terms that might be unfamiliar to most people. In general, the larger hospitals in big cities will be more able to accommodate people with little or no command of the Korean language.

In addition to Western medicine, Oriental medicine is quite popular in Korea. Herbal supplements can be bought in most pharmacies as well as from shops which produce their own. The most popular herbal supplements (such as Ginseng) can even be bought in convenience stores in the form of energy drinks, tea, gum, and alcohol.

Pharmacies are usually located near hospitals, as hospitals in Korea are not allowed to dispense take-home prescriptions; prescriptions are dispensed in small paper packages. No special vaccinations are required to enter Korea from most countries -- check your local consulate for details.

Visitors should be careful to get relevant hepatitis vaccinations. Hepatitis A, which is transmitted through food and water, is particularly rampant, with the Center for Disease Control estimating the chance of infection at 1% per month of stay. Korea has a disproportionately large infection rate, mostly attributed to food-sharing practices. Those who are unvaccinated should avoid the traditional side dishes served with all meals, as it is commonplace to recycle them from the last user (much like bread baskets in the west).

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Expat Health Insurance Partners


Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.


Health is your number one priority. At Aviva we understand this, which is why we’re focused on helping you and your family access high quality healthcare at home or overseas. Our award winning medical insurance will help you get the treatment you need or simply provide guidance and advice wherever you are, 24/7.

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.