Korea National Health Insurance Service
Korean adoptees are eligible for enrollment in the Korean National Health Insurance Service (NHIS). While full time employees in companies split the cost of and enroll you in national health insurance, if you are self-employed, a freelance worker, or even unemployed you can enroll yourself.
If an employer enrolls you in national health insurance, even if you did not have coverage before, you will not have to retroactively pay for the time you did not have coverage. This is in contrast to how enrollment works if you enroll yourself, as discussed below.
All registered foreigners will be automatically enrolled into the NHIS program after being in Korea for 6 months or longer. If you do not have insurance (either personal or through employment) and have already been in Korea for 6 months (as of 16 July 2019), you will receive an auto-enrollment notice in the mail.
Enrolling in Korean National Health Insurance
Employees at the National Health Insurance Service branch offices may speak basic English and can help you enroll even if you don’t speak Korean well.
Visit any National Health Insurance Service branch office. You can look up the branch office locations here. Look for a sign on the building like the one below:
Tell them you would like to enroll in the 지역 건강보험 <Community Health Insurance> for the Self-Employed/Unemployed.
Your information will be referenced from your alien registration number.
You will be asked if you are enrolling only yourself or yourself and dependents. Dependents' address should correspond with yours.
You will be issued an insurance passbook on the spot. While clinics and hospitals can look up your information using your alien registration number, this passbook acts as proof of insurance.
You will have to prepay in advance for at least one month (depending upon when you enroll, you may have to prepay for more than one month). The amount you will have to retroactively pay will depend on the amount of days elapsed from your last day of entry into Korea + 180 days.
To pay your bill, you can set up an automatic transfer or pay a monthly bill that arrives via mail.
[UPDATE 2018.1.18] The contribution per month is at minimum KRW 103,080 for F-4 visa holders (Set contribution rate for those under the self-employed/community health insurance, reduction below this rate is not available). Additionally, for other visas, according to the National Health Insurance Service, the contribution is calculated as follows:
When the income of the self-employed insured is verified:
Monthly Contribution = Premium for office workers with monthly salary X
※ If the monthly contribution is less than the average contribution → Charging previous year's average premium for dependents.
When the income of the self-employed insured is not verified:
Applying previous year's average premium for dependents
If the qualification for stay is a religious worker (D6), deduct 30% of contribution (Students (D2): Deduct 50%, General training(D4): Deduct 50%).
Residents abroad are charged the same as local residents (However, when the average premium per dependent is less than the previous year, they are charged the same fee as the average premium per dependent the previous year (Reduced 50% in case of C9))
Visitor(F1), residence(F2), settler(F5), marriage immigrant (F6) should charge and pay monthly insurance fee with the identical standard of local subscriber.
Premiums are pre-paid monthly (paid by the 25th of the previous month)
Requirements for enrolling in the community (self-employed) health insurance for an F4 visa holder:
You must be staying more than 180 days (6 months) in Korea
It must be at least 180 days from the last time you entered Korea
Documents for community (self-employed) health insurance for an F4 visa holder:
Alien Registration Card - If your F4 card has your Korean name on it, you may be registered under your Korean name
Bank Passbook (if you want to set up an automatic transfer each month for payment)
Form of payment (Cash or card)
Benefits of National Healthcare Coverage
The healthcare system works on a co-payment system for coverage. National healthcare covers many procedures and treatments but is not all encompassing. The NHIS will NOT cover medical care received outside Korea. Make sure to get traveler’s insurance if traveling abroad.
You also are able to receive health check-ups free of charge. For the self-employed insured, these are biannually provided. Those enrolled by their employer are also provided this same benefit. However, if an employee has a non-office job, the health check-up is provided every year.
Read more about the specific benefits of coverage here.
Read more about the Health Check-up benefit here.
Receiving Healthcare in Korea
According to the National Health Insurance Service, health care is delivered as follows:
“The health care delivery process is introduced to utilize medical resources efficiently (to prevent patients from clustering at a general hospital), establish the roles of medical institutions, and help curb the rise in national medical expense and stabilization of insurance financing. Care benefit is divided into 1st step and 2nd step. The insured (dependent) must receive 1st care benefit first followed by 2nd care benefit. 1st phase of care benefit means the benefit from care institutions (clinic, hospital, general hospital) except tertiary hospitals (specialized general hospitals). 2nd phase of care benefit means the benefit from tertiary hospitals.”
Exceptions Include: childbirth, emergency medical care, dental care, rehabilitation, receiving care at the department of family medicine, and healthcare services for a hemophiliac.
There are more details about exceptions and referral rules regarding coverage here.
The co-payment amount varies depending on if the provider is a large hospital or small clinic.
For all providers, walk-ins are accepted, but appointments may get you quicker care. Since the national healthcare system covers everyone and visiting a primary care physician costs very little money, Koreans visit providers often. This is even for minor ailments such as the common cold.
If you do not have any health insurance coverage, you need to pay out of pocket for any care you receive.
Helpful Phrases: English (Korean)
ENG: I came to enroll in community health insurance.
KOR: 지역 건강보험을 가입하러 왔는데요.
ENG: I want to register for automatic withdrawal.
KOR: 자동이체 등록을 하고 싶어요.
ENG: When will my account be debited?
KOR: 언제 계정이 인출 되나요?
ENG: I want to enroll myself <and my family>.
KOR: 저 <와 제 가족을> 등록하고 싶어요.
ENG: When will I be billed?
KOR: 고지서는 언제 나오나요?
ENG: I have <do not have> an appointment.
KOR: 저는 예약 있어요 <없어요>.
ENG: I have <do not have> national health insurance.
KOR: 저는 국민건강보험 있어요 <없어요>.
ENG: Do you accept private <overseas> insurance?
KOR: 사립 건강보험 <해외건강보험> 사용 가능한가요?
ENG: I do not have insurance, how much will my treatment cost?
KOR: 건강보험이 없는데 치료비가 얼마인가요?
If you have specific questions, the National Health Insurance Service has a call center that provides support in English: Call 1577-1000 (Press 8 for English).
A detailed document about the National Health Insurance System in Korea is provided here:
(English Document, Published DEC 2015)