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[COVID-19 in Korea] For 19 Days to Treat... Out of Pocket Expense "0 won"

[Fact Check] A Receipt is the topic on the Internet... “Fully Government Funded”

등록 2020.03.24 10:39수정 2020.03.24 10:51
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Mr. A posted the picture on his Facebook page, saying it was a receipt for his medical expense. Mr. A, a confirmed patient of COVID-19, explained that out of the total medical expenses, he only paid 44,000 won from his pocket. ⓒ Facebook


On March 17th, 'Mr. A' posted a picture on his Facebook with personal information of patient was blurred, saying it's medial bill for the treatment of COVID-19.
  
Total Amount of Medical Expense : 9,709,900 KRW (About 9,700 USD)
Total Amount Paid by the Patient : 1,448,700 KRW (About 1,440 USD)
Bank Account Deposit : 44,150 KRW (About 44 USD)
Others : 1,445,550 KRW (About 1,440,000 USD)

According to Mr. A, his friend was hospitalized for 19 days. He said, "Nearly 10 million won was spent on the medical expenses, but my friend only paid about 40,000 won since my friend was a confirm patient of COVID-19." Someone commented, "Don't spread fake news," while another said, "Korea's health insurance system is the best." Then, which one is right?

According to <OhmyNews> covering, the out of pocket expense of the patient was 44,150 won. On the 20th, an official from NHIS (National Health Insurance Service) said, "Most of the expense in the 'Total Amount Paid by Patient' section in the receipt is government-funded. The expense in 'Others' is covered by the government. So, the patient only paid 44,150 won in the 'Bank Account Deposit' section because he was a confirmed patient (of COVID-19)."

To be exact, COVID-19 patients are supported by NHIS, the central government, and the local governments. Among the total medical expenses, the government and local governments support the expense paid by patients, after subtracting NHIS' levy of the total medical expenses, which is determined by the health insurance system in Korea.

On January 29th, the Ministry of Health and Welfare revealed a new guideline, 'Guiding Support for the Treatment Expenses of New Influenza Syndrome', based on the Act on the Management and Prevention of Infectious Diseases (Related article : NHIS, Government & Local Governments Cover the Total Medical Expenses for 'COVID-19' Examination & Treatment). According to the guideline, COVID-19 confirmed patients as well as suspected patients and the subjects with symptoms requiring further examination will receive all expenses for diagnosis, examination, and treatment during the period from quarantined hospitalization to release. Also, non-payment items such as diagnosis and testing infectious diseases and food expenses are all included in the support.

However, some items have to be paid by the patients. According to <The Hankook Ilbo> report on the 19th, the amount of 44,000 won the patient paid is for consumptive materials such as syringes, needles, and alcohol.

However, this cost is also refundable. The official from NHIS said, "Although the law doesn't say 'full coverage', since the state is required to take protective measures regarding infectious diseases, the medical expense the patients have to pay is actually zero." He added, "It is because of the time difference, but the patients will get all the money back in the end."

However, there is a slight difference in cases of negative diagnosis. One of <OhmyNews> reporters recently received the COVID-19 examination in a screening center and conducted the examination. The reporter paid about 50,000 won for it because the result was negative. (Related article : "Isn't It Painful?" When I got COVID- 19 Test Myself…).

The official from NHIS said, "The negative patients are covered by the guideline only when their doctors report the cases to the health center, judging that they are suspected patients or subjects with symptoms requiring further examination."
 
Written by Park So Hee.
Translated by Youngae Joanna Kim.
* This report is the English version of OhmyNews Korean article. If you want to read the original article in Korean, click here!
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