Int’l students to receive instant medical coverageForeign students who register for medical insurance between March and April will receive coverage straight away, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said Wednesday.
The announcement was made a month after the government said it would make foreigners who live in Korea wait three months before receiving insurance automatically. During this period, any medical fees that incur will have to be paid by the foreign patient, who will be reimbursed later.
“The regulation was made to prevent those who stay in Korea for a short period to take advantage of medical insurance by leaving the country without paying the insurance fee,” an official from the Ministry of Health and Welfare explained.
But international students on a D-2 visa will be exempt from the new regulation if they sign up for a tentative program between March and April. Students who sign up during this time window will qualify for insurance coverage that will apply immediately.
The decision is based on the government’s “strategic international student inducement measure” in which it was announced that it will be mandatory for international students studying in Korea to obtain medical insurance starting this semester.
The plan was part of efforts to attract more students from overseas to the country.
Under the measure, the government has also eased the visa screening process for students who come to universities that have been actively attracting outstanding international students.
The medical insurance includes coverage from private insurance companies and the national health insurance (NHI), which is issued by the National Health Insurance Corporation, the only public insurance institute in Korea.
Foreign students, their spouses and their children under 20 are eligible for the NHI.
The national insurance system in Korea is funded by compulsory contributions from all residents and government subsidies.
The government recently agreed on a long-term national health insurance coverage plan, which is to be completed by 2018. Costs for pregnant women who receive caesareans, elderly patients with terminal illnesses and those with incurable cancer will be reduced under the plan.
BY RHEE ESTHER, PARK YUNA [email@example.com]