Living in Korea

Enrolling in National Health Insurance in South Korea

Whenever you’re traveling abroad, it’s essential to look at the country’s health insurance policies. After all, you never know when you might need medical attention. Thankfully, health insurance in Korea for foreigners isn’t hard to obtain. 

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There are just a few hoops you have to jump through. If you’re not familiar with the process, don’t fret.

In this article, we’ll talk about the basics. How do you apply for insurance in Korea for foreigners? What are the requirements?

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Even if you’re moving to Korea for a short-time, you should enroll in National Health Insurance. Otherwise, simply buying medicine for colds or fevers can get pretty pricey.

If you’re looking for health insurance in Korea for foreigners, here’s everything you need to know:

You Need a Valid Visa to Apply

Of course, it’s a given that you need a valid visa to qualify for Korean health insurance. However, what sort of visas are approved by South Korean law?

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Well, of course, non-resident Korean citizens can apply. For non-resident Koreans, there’s no termination policy.

Furthermore, tourists can’t apply for health insurance. This is because tourists can access affordable healthcare programs through tourist guides. 

Health insurance is for more permanent residents. Therefore, you must have a non-tourist visa. 

You have to be in the country for at least six months. Otherwise, you aren’t eligible for health insurance. 

According to South Korean law, student visas (D4s) need not apply. However, D2 student visas can apply through their universities. 

Applying For The National Health Insurance Service

Now, if you’re looking to apply for insurance in Korea for foreigners, there are a few ways to do it. 

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Firstly, you have to identify whether you’re a student, employed, or self-employed. All of these indicate what type of visa you have.

As mentioned, students can apply through their universities. You simply have to contact the administration and they’ll guide you on the process. 

Similarly, if you’re employed by a company, your company will determine your insurance package. 

Usually, for employees, health insurance packages differ based on salaries. According to South Korean law, both you and your employer must pay 3.23% of your total salary. 

In this way, you put 6.46% of your salary towards health insurance every month.

For both students and employed individuals, the process is very easy. You must simply provide your Alien Registration Card (ARC) to your university or company.

They’ll take care of the enrollment.   

It Works A Bit Differently For Unemployed People

Now, if you don’t work for a company, you’ll have to apply yourself. This is particularly for H1, F6, and D4 visas. However, if you’re freelancing, self-employed, or unemployed, you’ll probably go through this process. 

Firstly, you need to gather all essential documents. This list includes your ARC and your community health insurance form. The form is available on the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) website.

Once you’ve filled the form, visit your local NHIS office and register your ARC information. If you have dependents, they should have the same contact information and address as you. 

Next, you have to pay the fee. If you’re applying for a six-month package, you’ll need to pay the first month’s fee up front. 

For an eight-month package, you’ll pay the fees for two months up front. Once the transaction is complete, you’re officially registered. 

So, finally, the cleric will issue you (and any dependents) an insurance book. You need to take this with you to hospital visits as this is proof of insurance.

Accidents Are Not Covered in Insurance in Korea for Foreigners

Overall, South Korea’s health insurance program is relatively extensive. With some packages, you can get up to a 70% discount on your hospital bill. 

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However, two key things aren’t covered: accidents and physical injuries.

So, if you hurt yourself, you’ll have to pay full price. Unless it’s a big injury, visit your local clinics. In that way, you’ll get discounts. 

However, if you go to a big university hospital, you’ll get charged more. 

The healthcare system primarily focuses on preventative care. Therefore, you’ll get concessions and discounts for screenings and tests but not injuries. 

Of course, ‘non-benefit’ medical treatments are also not covered. ‘Non-benefit’ treatments include cosmetic surgery and dermatologist treatments. 

However, exceptions include reconstructive surgery.

You Have to Suspend Your Insurance When Leaving

Once you’ve applied for health insurance in Korea for foreigners, you can either renew it, terminate it, or let it expire. 

It all depends on when your visa expires. If you’re leaving Korea before your visa expires, you must contact your local NHIS office to terminate your insurance package.

However, if your visa is expired, this happens automatically after 30 days. Alternatively, if you’ve renewed your visa, you can extend your health insurance.  

Conclusion

To conclude, enrolling health insurance in Korea for foreigners is pretty straightforward. Simply ensure all your documents are in order. If so, you’ll be fine. 

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However, make sure you have a basic knowledge of Korean. The NHIS website is not available in English.

If you need help with learning Korean, check out these apps.