2017 is a big year for South Korea as the country marks 40th anniversary of its national health insurance system this year.
Korea achieved universal health coverage in 1989, 12 years after the launch of the National Health Insurance Program. The country continued to reform its health care system and delivery mechanisms that led to a single-payer system in 2000.
A recent full member to the JLN community, Korea’s exemplary achievements in UHC have inspired interest across the international community to learn from the country’s experiences in managing a national health insurance system.
Last week, Korea’s National Health Insurance Service and Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (HIRA) co-hosted an international symposium to look back at its journey and stimulate debates and discussions for further refinements to its health systems.
JLN country members from Malaysia and Philippines joined in the celebrations alongside global health system experts and national leaders in Seoul on June 20, 2017. A mini lecture series was also held at HIRA headquarters in Wonju the next morning.
The network’s convener and Malaysia’s senior deputy director for Planning Division, Ministry of Health, Dr. Rozita Halina Hussein, was a panelist on "Korea NHI's Role as a Global Healthcare Leader for UHC of developing countries" session and shared the workings of the JLN with the attendees, highlighting Korea’s role in the network as a mentor and resource for JLN member countries on UHC.
“Korea, even as a new member of the JLN community, is a significant resource for several other of our member countries, especially on topics such as medical audits and claims review” said Rozita.
JLN Medical Audits Learning Collaborative member and officer-in-charge vice president for PhilHealth’s Quality Assurance Group, Gilda Salvacion A. Diaz also participated in a session called "History of Korea's Health Insurance Review & Assessment and the Next Step Forward” where she shared on the experience and prospects of PhilHealth in areas of Korea’s NHI reforms, such as ensuring appropriateness of cost and quality, use of big data to support decision-making; and patient-centered care.
Korea has been a key learning partner on JLN’s Medical Audits Learning Collaborative, having hosted three global learning events in 2016, which provided country members with closer exposure to South Korea’s systems.
Referring to Korea’s involvement in the JLN, John Ryu, commissioner of HIRA International Group, cited the country’s interests in the network. “While Korea can be a model for many countries on UHC reforms, we are also seeking the experiences of other countries as we continue to address improving financial sustainability and other challenges.”
Korea continues to refine its health system, focusing on strengthening primary health care and addressing the healthcare needs of its ageing population.