Insurance Merger Faces Opposition

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Insurance Merger Faces Opposition

As the government prepares to merge the finances of the employee health insurance plan and regional health insurance plans in January, a group of opposition Grand National Party lawmakers introduced a bill in the National Assembly over the weekend calling for the nullification of the merger. Chung Woo-taik, chief policymaker of the minor opposition United Liberal Democrats, said Monday that he supported the GNP proposal.

Kwon Chul-hyun, the GNP spokesman, said his party's stance on the revision of the Health Insurance Act has not been determined and that the party leadership will cautiously consider the proposal submitted by Representative Shim Jae-chul and others.

Lee Mi-kyung, a deputy policy maker of the governing Millennium Democratic Party, said it would be irresponsible of the opposition to pull out of the bipartisan agreement on the merger of the two health insurance plans, which was forged in 1999. "Leaving the finances of the two systems separate will not solve the chronic deficit faced by the national health insurance," Ms. Lee said. "Trying to undo the merger once it has started will cost even more money."

As the opposition to the merger proposal intensified in June, the government said it would leave the finances of the two systems intact for five years even as it merge them legally. Salaried workers are leading the opposition since the government knows 100 percent how much they make. But the government has identified the income amount of 54 percent of the self-employed at most. The salaried workers also oppose the government's plan to leave the finances of the two system intact for five years, saying it is a half-way measure.

by Lee Sang-il

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