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Last year, South Korea health expenditure to GDP made an entry to 8% for the first time

Posted on : August 22, 2019 13:36 | Modified on : August 22, 2019 13:36


[한글 기사=지난해 GDP 대비 의료비 첫 8%대 진입, 상급종합·종합병원 입원료·검사료 증가가 한몫

Last year, health expenditure to GDP made an entry to 8% for the first time, increase in hospitalization and examination in a superior general hospital and general hospital played a part in the increase

Health expenditure to 2018 GDP went up by 0.5%p to 8.1% (previous year 7.6%) 
However, it fell short of OECD average (8.8%) and government expenditure (59.8%) was below the OECD average (73.8%)


Last year, South Korea's current health expenditure to GDP made an entry to 8% for the first time. Last year's current health expenditure to GDP rose by 0.5%p to 8.1% from 7.6% in 2017, which is still lower than the OECD average (8.8%) but recorded the highest increase rate over the past 10 years. One of the reasons for the rapid increase in health expenditure, reflecting on a variety of figures, is assumed to be the increase in health insurance expenditure for the cost of hospitalization and examination mainly in the superior general hospital and general hospitals.

According to the OECD Health Statistics 2019 of August 7th, Korea's current health expenditure in 2018 was 144.4 trillion won and it went up by 9.4% from the previous year (120.2 trillion won). Accordingly, current health expenditure to GDP accounted for 8.1% (preliminary) and it went up to the point around 8% for the first time from the 6~7% range of the past 10 years.

However, it was still low compared to 8.8% of the current health expenditure against the OECD average GDP. The US current health expenditure to GDP recorded 16.9% which went down by 0.2%p from the previous year, and Switzerland was 12.2%, Germany was 11.2%, France was 11.22%, Japan was 10.9%, and the U.K. was 9.8%. 

Among the 2018 current health expenditure, the governmental schemes and compulsory contributory health financing schemes accounted for 59.8% of the total as 86.3 trillion won, and private medical expenditure accounted for 40.2% of the total as 58.1 trillion won. The governmental schemes and compulsory contributory health financing schemes increased by 0.9%p from the previous year while the private medical expenditure decreased by 0.8%p.

In other words, the increase rate of government health expenditure was higher than that of private health expenditure. However, reflecting on the point that the OECD countries’ average participation rate of governmental schemes and compulsory contributory health financing schemes is 73.8% and the private health expenditure is 20.6%, it is found that not only does Korea reach the current health expenditure to GDP but also the governmental support is especially insufficient. 

In this situation, the current health expenditure per person in 2018 was 2,796,000 won, and it rapidly increased by 9.0% compared with the previous year. The annual average (actual) increase rate over the last 10 years (2008-2018) was 6.8%, and it is the rapid increase from the annual average of around 7% from 2014 to 2014~2017. 

By Sol Im 
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