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Hospital visits to require IDs for insurance coverage

May 20, 2024 - 14:42 By Yoon Min-sik
A notification at a Seoul hospital on Monday reminds visitors that one has to carry ID when receiving medical services, in order to receive state health insurance benefits. (Yonhap)

Starting Monday, an identity verification process has been mandated for those wishing to receive national health insurance benefits for medical services in South Korea.

The recent revision to the National Health Insurance Act came into effect, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, as patients are required to carry a certified form of identification with them when they visit medical facilities. Those who do not must pay the entire medical fee, even if they are subscribed to the National Health Insurance program.

The accepted form of identification includes resident registration certificates, driver's licenses, alien registration cards, domestic residence cards, passports, and health insurance cards. A digital version of the health insurance card is downloadable through the National Health Insurance Service application.

A copy of an ID is not acceptable, but a document with a photo proving that the person has been treated with national medical insurance coverage within 14 days could be accepted as a form of ID.

Various forms of digital identification such as the mobile PASS, the YesKey certificate provided by the Korea Financial Telecommunications and Clearings Institute, the state-issued Digital One Pass and others issued by banks and tech firms are also acceptable. The complete list of acceptable IDs can be found on the Health Ministry website.

Emergency patients and referred patients will be exempt from this measure, although the exception for referred patients applies only to their first visit to the medical facility.

Those under 19 years of age, for whom the state has not yet issued an ID, will also not be required to carry an ID. They can simply submit their resident registration number as before.

Prior to the new measure, identification verifying at hospital visitors were relatively simple, often just asking for their resident registration number. But such lax protocol led to an array of cases in which people used another person's medical insurance.

According to the NHIS, there have been 40,418 cases of such cases in 2023, up from 30,771 in the year before.

Unlawful use of the National Health Insurance program can be subject to up to two years in prison or 20 million won fine ($14,700).

South Korean law subsidizes the costs of medical services through the National Health Insurance program, to which all citizens and foreign nationals who lived in the country for at least six months are mandated to subscribe.