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South Korea – Health Insurance

South Korea has a mandatory health insurance system that covers the majority of the population, including citizens, residents, and foreign workers. In this article, we will discuss the details of the health insurance system in South Korea, how to apply for it, and the advantages of international private medical insurance for expats.

Health Insurance Requirements in South Korea

Health insurance is mandatory in South Korea. All residents must enroll in the National Health Insurance (NHI) program, which provides coverage for medical and dental treatments, prescription medications, and other health-related services.

State Health Insurance System in South Korea

The National Health Insurance program in South Korea is a single-payer system, which means that the government manages the system and collects contributions from individuals and employers to fund it.

The coverage of the NHI program is comprehensive, and it includes hospitalization, surgery, diagnostic tests, prescription medication, and other health-related services. The program also covers preventive care, such as health screenings and immunizations.

The cost of healthcare services in South Korea is relatively low, and the NHI program covers up to 80% of the total cost of treatment, leaving patients to pay the remaining 20% out of pocket.

Applying for State Health Insurance System in South Korea (provide answer in numbered steps)

Foreign nationals who reside in South Korea for more than six months are required to enroll in the National Health Insurance program. Here are the steps to apply for the NHI program:


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  1. Obtain an Alien Registration Card (ARC): The ARC is a necessary document for foreign nationals living in South Korea. You can apply for an ARC at the immigration office in your area.

  2. Visit the National Health Insurance Corporation (NHIC): You will need to bring your ARC, passport, and proof of residence to the NHIC office to apply for the NHI program.

  3. Complete the application form: The NHIC staff will provide you with an application form that you will need to fill out. You will also need to provide your personal information and the information of your employer, if applicable.

  4. Pay the premiums: The NHIC staff will inform you of the monthly premiums that you will need to pay for the NHI program. You can pay the premiums at the NHIC office or through your bank.

  5. Receive your NHI card: After completing the application process and paying the premiums, you will receive your NHI card, which you will need to present when you receive medical treatment.

Advantages of Private Medical Insurance in South Korea

While the National Health Insurance program in South Korea provides comprehensive coverage for most medical needs, there are still advantages to having international private medical insurance for expats. Some advantages of international private medical insurance for expats in South Korea include:

  • Access to private hospitals: While NHIS covers treatment at public hospitals, expats may prefer to receive care at private hospitals. International private medical insurance can provide coverage for private hospital stays and treatments.

  • Coverage for pre-existing conditions: NHIS may not cover pre-existing conditions or have waiting periods for coverage. International private medical insurance can provide coverage for pre-existing conditions.

  • Evacuation and repatriation coverage: In the event of a serious illness or injury, international private medical insurance can cover the cost of evacuation or repatriation to the expat’s home country for treatment.

  • Access to English-speaking doctors: Some international private medical insurance plans provide access to a network of English-speaking doctors and medical facilities, which can be helpful for expats who are not fluent in Korean.

  • Additional benefits: Depending on the plan chosen, international private medical insurance can offer additional benefits such as dental coverage, vision care, and wellness programs.

It is important for expats to carefully review their options and choose an international private medical insurance plan that best fits their needs and budget.


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