From July, foreign students staying in Korea for more than six months are required to subscribe to the national health insurance. Because of the increasing number of foreigners staying in Korea and the enhanced security of health insurance, the government is trying to make it necessary for foreigners to sign up for and use the national health insurance. It is also expected to prevent social problems such as temporary visitors leaving the country after receiving expensive medical treatment, and long-term foreign residents who need treatment but who cannot receive medical services on time.
The application is for a stay of more than six months. Foreign students have to pay insurance premiums for the next month by the 25th of every month, and the health insurance benefits are the same as for Koreans (hospitalization, an outpatient clinic, a serious illness and a medical checkup etc.).
But, there are many problems with the mandatory health insurance for foreign students. Previously, foreign students could join the health insurance if they stay for more than three months, but it was not an obligation, and foreign students usually have used private health insurance, which costs between 100,000 won and 110,000 won a year. The insurance is not only a real-life insurance policy for minor injury to disease and inpatient care but also pays for death. Also, it offers 24-hour service for major languages with customized services for students through messenger counseling such as Kakao-Talk and We-Chat. Although national insurance premiums for 100,000 foreign students will increase seven times compared to the private ones (You will usually pay 56,530 won a month. It costs 678,000 won a year.), it won’t provide many services. In addition even if the national health insurance provided greater benefit than private insurance, most students in their 20s will not need a wide range of medical benefits.
Another problem is that unlike private insurance, where schools take care of the registration and payment procedures, national health insurance, which subscribers have to take care of in person, is prone to mistakes, such as students accidentarily forgetting to pay.
From the perspective of the country, the mandatory national health insurance program may have been an alternative to social problems, but this has made it more difficult for foreign students to come and study in Korea. In particular, most students from developing countries will be financially burdened.
What do the foreign students in our school think? Meng Ran Liu(梦冉) (Department of English Language and Literature·2) said “This makes us feel not only burden, but also anger. The south Korean government forces foreigners to pay insurance because of the country's budget deficit, and it did not consult any foreigners beforehand. In addition, we are embarrassed be threatened during visa extension and disappointed by such conduct. The irresponsible conduct will lose good feeling for foreigners toward South Korea.”
Also, there are problems that need to be addressed first before execution, such as the restriction of 30 hours per week for part-time employment and the issue of not writing employment contracts. The nation should create an environment where students who choose Korea to study can study, without putting much pressure on them. We think that the nation must reconsider and look at the foreign students from their perspective and improve the law.
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