Stricter insurance requirements for foreigners in Korea to be implemented in April


Stricter insurance requirements for foreigners in Korea to be implemented in April | Insurance Business Asia

Exceptions will be provided for children 19 and below

Stricter insurance requirements for foreigners in Korea to be implemented in April

Life & Health

Kenneth Araullo

An amendment to the Health Insurance Act, set to come into effect on April 3, introduces new regulations for foreign nationals and overseas South Koreans seeking health insurance coverage in South Korea.

Under the revised act, those eligible must now reside in the country for a minimum of six months to qualify as dependents of actual subscribers to the national health insurance.

That said, a report from The Korea Herald reveals that the new rules provide an exception for children under 19 years of age and spouses of foreign workers. This measure is designed to facilitate the settlement of families of diplomats and expatriate employees in South Korea, allowing them access to health insurance without the six-month residency requirement.

According to the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS), overseas South Korean nationals are defined as individuals who reside abroad but hold South Korean nationality. The amendment also specifies that certain categories of foreign nationals, including those married to South Korean citizens, students with a D-2 visa, individuals on a D-4-3 visa for special training, nonprofessional workers with an E-9 visa, and holders of F-5 permanent residency or F-6 marriage migrant visas, are eligible for immediate health insurance benefits upon arrival in Korea.

Conversely, parents of foreign spouses of South Korean passport holders, previously eligible as dependents, will now be required to fulfill the six-month residency criteria to benefit from the health insurance scheme.

This tightening of health insurance eligibility criteria comes in response to concerns that foreign residents were exploiting the system. There had been increasing instances of foreigners entering South Korea for short periods, paying minimal insurance fees, and receiving expensive medical treatments. This practice led to growing criticism and calls for reform to prevent misuse of the state medical insurance scheme.

The revision to the health insurance measure was passed by the National Assembly on Dec. 8 following debates on how to address these loopholes in the healthcare system effectively.

An NHIS official told The Korea Herald that the stricter standards are expected to help in filtering foreigners who benefit from the service, implying a more rigorous approach to managing access to the national health insurance system.

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