Gov’t insurance subsidy under fire

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Gov’t insurance subsidy under fire

One nurse working at Chung-Ang University Hospital in Seoul has national health insurance that costs 195,000 won ($174.50) a month. Of that, she pays 97,500 won, the hospital pays 58,500 won, and the government covers 39,000 won.

But for another nurse at Seoul National University, she and the hospital split the 185,400 won payments evenly, 92,700 won each, without any subsidy from the government.

The difference? Chung-Ang University Hospital is run by a private institution, Chung-Ang University, while the Seoul National University Hospital belongs to a public institution.

Because of the 1979 National Health Insurance law, the state pays 20 percent of national health insurance fees for workers at private educational institutions and their hospitals, but not at public universities or public university hospitals.

Increasingly, people are calling the divide unfair.

“It does not make sense that there is no state subsidy for workers at hospitals run by public entities while those at private ones receive such assistance,” says Choi Sil-bong, management director at Pusan National University Hospital, owned by the public Pusan National University.

Teachers and administrative workers at private schools, including all kindergarten, elementary, middle and high schools, all receive state subsidies for health insurance.

Last year alone, the government paid 196.1 billion won for its subsidies for 318,160 people at private schools.

Similarly, the government also subsidizes 20 percent of the pensions for professors at private universities.

“That the government only offers benefits for private university hospitals while public university hospital workers are left out makes people wonder about fairness,” Kim Tae-un, director at the National Assembly Budget Office told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.

“Considering that private schools such as foreign language high schools have amassed large fortunes, it is troubling that the government assists them in paying the national health insurance and pension service,” said Yun Suk-myeong, director at the pension research center at the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs.

In response to the growing calls, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said it is considering halting its subsidy program for private school workers.

The government spent 85 billion won last year covering health insurance fees for private school employees.



BY SHIN SUNG-SIK, JANG JOO-YOUNG [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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