Ministry expands medical insurance coverage for those who suffer from four major illnesses
Minister of Health and Welfare Chin Young speaks at a policy briefing to President Park
Geun-hye at Cheong Wa Dae on March 21.
Ultrasound examinations for patients suffering from four major illnesses, including cancers and cardiovascular diseases, will be covered by medical insurance starting in October.
In a policy report from Minister Chin Young of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) on March 21, President Park Geun-hye called for a dramatic shift in the welfare paradigm, including workfare and recipient-specific welfare.
The ministry reported to President Park the essential medical services for those patients suffering from the four major diseases that will be covered by medical insurance starting in 2016.
Under the plan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests and expensive anticancer treatments for patients with the four major diseases will likely be put on the list for reimbursement of medical bills, possibly starting next year at the earliest. The MOHW plans to announce the timetable for the step-by-step coverage of other medical services for those who suffer from the four major diseases by the end of June. Starting next year, expensive dental implants will also be covered by national health insurance for those aged 75 or older. The coverage will be expanded to include those aged 70 or over starting in 2015 and those aged 65 or over starting in 2016.
Starting in the second half of next year, the national basic livelihood security system will be revamped into an individual beneficiary system, which will allow for the relaxation of qualifications for those who support national basic livelihood security beneficiaries. The upcoming step will likely raise the number of national basic livelihood security beneficiaries by 740,000 to 4.14 million. Such incentives as earned income tax credit and work-linked benefits will also be offered to national basic livelihood security beneficiaries who get jobs.
Livelihood benefits to cover essential living costs will be provided to those who earn 30 percent or less of the average middle class income, while medical benefits will be offered to those who earn 35 percent or less of the average middle class income. Residential and educational benefits will also be given to those who earn between 40 percent and 50 percent of the average middle class income. The poor, who have narrowly failed to become national basic livelihood security beneficiaries, have been so far been denied such residential and educational benefits.
The requirements for those who are required to support national basic livelihood security beneficiaries, which has become a subject of complaint from the poor, will be eased. The poor have been so far delisted from national basic livelihood security beneficiaries if their immediate family members earn the average income of the middle class or more. From now on, immediate family members who earn the average income of the middle class plus the minimum living cost will be judged as capable of supporting national basic livelihood security beneficiaries. Kwon Duk-cheol, director general in charge of welfare policy at the MOHW said, “An additional 200,000 people will benefit from the relaxation.”
Starting from next year, those who earn 50 percent or less of the average middle class income and are entitled to earned income tax credit will get additional disposable income from working. National basic livelihood security beneficiaries who have the ability to work will be also given work-linked benefits if they participate in self-help programs or get a job.
President Park called for enhancing public awareness of the national pension to dispel people’s misunderstanding that National Pension Service (NPS) subscribers will lose out on benefits. “Please let people know that those who have already become NPS subscribers or not will gain more benefits than now,” Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kim Haing quoted Park as saying.
President Park was also quoted as saying that such things as the offering of poor welfare services and cases of understaffed welfare officials who killed themselves due to overwork should not have taken place.
The Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) reported to President Park that it will implement stringent steps to ensure the safety of foods, including seeking punishment and/or prison sentences for those who produce and market substandard or adulterated food.
The KFDA plans to deal with adulterated food makers or markets by raising their penalty charges to a maximum of 10 times the production or marketing amounts instead of the current two times