Should US Take Note of South Korean Health Insurance Reform?

South Korea is moving to reform their health insurance program through a series of different steps.

The United States is not the only country going through health insurance reform. The government in South Korea is seeking to improve their health insurance program as well, according to an article published by the Korea Herald.

This plan involves cutting fees in half for individuals with low income to create more affordable healthcare for its citizens. This is the same goal that the US government is also seeking.

The revision to their national insurance system, created by the South Korea Ministry of Health and Welfare, will be adopted for 9 years after being implemented in a series of 3 steps, according to the article.

These changes will reduce costs up to half for 80%, or 6.06 million households, that currently are enrolled in state-run insurance plans. Government officials said that households with a yearly income of less than 10 million won ($8560) will be required to pay 13,100 won each month during the first stage of implementation, which translates to roughly $11.

According to the article, 470,000 households that are currently receiving free healthcare will be changed to subscribers who must pay for healthcare due to changes in legislation. These individuals all have an income of more than 34 million won or $25,698.57 per year.

However, those with an annual income of 40 million won, with less than 900 million won in savings, may receive free healthcare services, the Herald reported. The Ministry of Health and Welfare is planning to put 20 trillion won into the program, which is nearly $77,000 US dollars.

While the United States may be trying to reform healthcare in different ways than South Korea, US officials should take note of their implementation method.

Rather than making significant changes at once, the South Korean government is implementing the changes over 3 different steps. This will most likely lead to less issues “slipping through the cracks,” and prevent those who cannot afford insurance from losing coverage.

However, in the United States, President Donald Trump is seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as quickly as possible, regardless of whether or not there is a concrete replacement plan. This has caused significant public outrage with the new President.

Implementing healthcare reform would likely be more successful if there was a replacement plan in place prior to the repeal, which would ease the thoughts of Americans who feel that their healthcare is being threatened. At-risk groups, such as those with mental illness and substance use disorders, may have limited options once the health law is repealed.

The ACA provision to provide women with free contraceptives has also come under fire from the new administration, with many participating in peaceful protests to show politicians how important women’s healthcare is.

Fortunately for some, governors are starting to write ACA provisions into their own states’ laws to prevent individuals from losing access to various services.

Much work is needed to overhaul the United States healthcare system, but if changes are implemented in stages, rather than all at once, it may reduce the likelihood of poor patient outcomes that result from lack of access to care.