Higher Health Insurance Fees Likely to RiseWith government further dividing, and according to some, needlessly complicating the roles doctors and pharmacists play in the nation's medical care, medical insurance rates are expected to rise
Government conceded that there may be some "additional burden" for some individual patients. This is in direct contrast to previous government statements denying rumors that public health insurance premiums would be going up. The reason for the additional expense will stem from having to pay for both the prescription itself as well as the doctor's consultation fee. Whereas previously doctor's were able to dispense drugs to their patients, doctors may now only give prescriptions with the actual prescription being filled at the drug store. Also, with pharmacies being a business, it is expected that prescription fees will rise with pharmacists using the most expensive and most profit-generating drugs. Doctors usually gave cheaper generic drugs with the same effects but at a much cheaper cost to their patients.
Jung Woo-jin, a researcher for the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, predicts that this division within the medical area will drain an estimated 1.1 trillion won from the nation's health insurance system, or 21.8 percent of the total annual budget.
Therefore, if Jung's predictions holds true and there is no additional infusion of money into the health insurance system by government, medical insurance rates will have to increase by over 20 percent to keep the system viable.
Kang Chang-gu, a policy coordinator for Kongang Yondae, a civic group focusing on health issues, said that this change in the system will obviously require 1 to 1.5 trillion won in additional funding. Kang called for government to be more "honest in explaining the future difficulties lying ahead."
by Shin Sung-sik