[EDITORIALS]Insurance Bills Must Be Collected

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[EDITORIALS]Insurance Bills Must Be Collected

There is a serious defect in the system of collecting medical insurance premiums. Reports indicate that there are 650,000 people who did not pay medical insurance in 1998 although they had income. According to a recent survey by the National Health Insurance Corporation submitted to an opposition party legislator, there are people who do not pay medical insurance because they are registered as dependents of their children although they have big enough income, which requires them to pay composite income tax to the National Tax Service. It is said that a total of 150 billion won ($115 million) of premiums is not collected annually due to such evasions. It is also deplorable that there are 1,389 people who do not pay insurance although their annual income exceeds 100 million won.

The financial health of the medical insurance system is serious. Workplace health insurance, which had been financially sound, is in the red together with regional health insurance schemes, which are holding out narrowly under the support of the government. A four trillion won deficit is expected this year alone. The government will report measures to relieve the financial state of the National Health Insurance soon. But it will be useless if such loopholes are not mended. The income of only 26 percent of regional insurance policyholders is known. Although the income of the self-employed is higher than that of salaried workers, the earnings of the self-employed reported to the National Tax Service are only 55-60 percent of the total income of salaried workers.

The government is determined to push the financial merger of the regional and workplace health insurance schemes due to political pledges. The financial merger of the health insurance will be a burden to salaried workers and may result in the bankruptcy of the workplace health insurance scheme. A fail-safe system to enhance the collection of insurance premiums in the regional health insurance scheme through the support of the National Tax Service is required. The financial merger should come only after this is achieved.

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