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Foreigners must stay in S. Korea for 6 months to be eligible for state health insurance as dependents

April 2, 2024 - 10:51 By Yonhap
The Seoul Immigration Office (Seoul Immigration Office)

Foreigners and overseas Koreans can only become eligible for the state health insurance coverage as dependents if they reside in South Korea for at least six months, according to the health ministry Tuesday.

The tightened rule, which goes into effect Wednesday, comes as some foreigners have reportedly exploited the nation's health insurance system.

Media reports have said some foreign nationals working in South Korea register siblings and other relatives as dependents and arrange temporary visits to South Korea for medical treatments.

Previously, all foreigners could enroll their family members as dependents in the public health insurance program for employees upon meeting specific criteria, such as income and assets.

There was also criticism regarding the fairness of the public health insurance program for foreign independent subscribers, as they already need to reside in South Korea for at least six months to qualify.

The updated policy excludes spouses and children under the age of 19. Individuals with visas in the categories of D-2, D-4-3, E-9 and F-6, as well as those with permanent residency status, can also immediately qualify as dependents.

As of 2022, the number of foreigners enrolled in public health insurance came to 1.32 million, with Chinese nationals accounting for 52 percent. (Yonhap)