Stockbroker Honored by Government for Paying Largest Medical Insurance Bill

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Stockbroker Honored by Government for Paying Largest Medical Insurance Bill

The Ministry of Health and Welfare revealed on May 18 that it would honor a major securities company vice director identified only as 'H', the initial of his family name, because he accurately reported his salary of 4 billion won and fully paid his medical insurance bill, over 130 million won, for 1999.

The national medical insurance program in Korea is funded through a 3 percent tax levied on an individual's salary. Capital gains and other investment income are not included in the calculation of the tax.

In addition to the 130 million won he paid last year, he also paid an additional 59 million won premium for his medical insurance bill in the first quarter of this year, thus bringing his medical insurance payments for the last 15 months to almost 200 million won.

Actually, "H" did not pay the full amount of the premiums out of his own pocket, his employer picked up the tab for half of the amount.

The stockbroker's huge salary caused shock and envy among normal Koreans, especially since his monthly average medical insurance bill of 13 million won was 316 times as much as a normal worker's payment of 40 thousand won.

According to the Grand National Party (GNP) representative Kim Hong-shin, during the last inspection of the tax administration, the 30 heads of major companies' average monthly medical insurance bill was a mere 275 thousand won. Also, according to the '2000 Chart of Medical Insurance Bills' by the Korea National Health Insurance Corporation, the Prime Minister's insurance bill was only 279 thousand won.

"H" attended university in Taegu before dropping out. After quitting school he began working for a construction company. While working for the construction company he started investing in the stock market. His stock market investments proved so successful that he was soon able to quit his job at the construction company.

A local securities company, recognizing his proclivity for playing the markets, hired him as a stockbroker in 1996. He soon proved his value to the company by helping 10 of his clients reap dramatic profits in the market. His salary, largely based on commission income, rose accordingly and he was soon the most highly paid broker in his area.

"H" refused to be interviewed for this article, only saying that he was not proud of making his living through investing in the stock market.

by Shin Sung-sik

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