South Korea helps Nepal to build a health insurance system for universal health coverage


South Korea started the health insurance program with enactment of the health insurance act in 1963. It was the time when, per capital GDP of the country was US 140. They started by implementing the health insurance program for the government sector only, because ascertaining the earnings from other sectors is difficult. After years of experiment, the South Korean government made enrollment from large-scale work places compulsory in 1977. In the first stage, enrollment was made compulsory for firms having 500+ employees, which was extended to the firms with more than 100 employees in 1981 and 16 employees in 1983. Similarly, the coverage was expanded to the public servants and private school teachers in 1979. For those who couldn’t pay the contribution, the government implemented that Medicaid paid the contribution for poor and low income residents.

Finally, coverage was expanded to the self-employed groups and private sector society such as artists and barbers and in 1989 health insurance became a universal program by covering almost all (94%) of the total population. To cover the entire population, more than 400 health insurance societies have made massive social marketing ploys for enrollment. They also worked hand in hand in creating demand and strengthening supply. As there were few public health facilities, the government provided loans to the private sector for establishing health facilities in the rural areas. Over this time, now 2017 in South Korea, the rapid economic development and social welfare system stunned the delegates, especially the health insurance system. Their strategy to cover all the population, state of arts health infrastructures and regulation of private health service providers are the areas that particularly astonished delegates.


On 4 to 14 July, the high-level delegates visit was organized by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in South Korea to observe the world’s best health insurance system. Nepal is now receiving much support for development from many countries. KOICA, one of the bilateral organization, has been working in Nepal since 1991, leading technical cooperation and grant aid on behalf of the government of the republic of Korea. KOICA is a governmental foreign aid agency of the republic of Korea, working on development programs worldwide which endeavor to combat poverty and support sustainable socio-economic growth of partner countries. The KOICA Nepal office has also been active in supporting project implementation, the dispatch of Korean volunteers, fellowship program, public-private partnership program and multilateral cooperation.

Member Comment