Hospitals required to check patients' IDs to curb health insurance abuse

By Park Sae-jin Posted : May 14, 2024, 12:38 Updated : May 14, 2024, 12:46
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SEOUL, May 14 (AJU PRESS) - Starting next week, patients will be required to present their valid IDs to receive medical treatment at hospitals and clinics in Korea, the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) said Tuesday.

The stricter ID checks are part of measures to prevent foreigners or others from abusing the state health insurance coverage, amid concerns about the lavish use of medical insurance by some foreigners who exploit health benefits using aliases or forged identities. In fact, there have been many cases where foreigners, posing as dependent family members or distant relatives for insured people here, come to Korea to get expensive treatment and then disappear.

Currently, hospitals and clinics only ask some basic information like name, resident registration number, and address from patients who want to receive medical treatment. This simplicity has been exploited by some foreigners who pose as Korean nationals or other registered foreigners.

Under the revised guidelines, patients must verify their identity at hospitals and clinics at least once every six months starting May 20. "We were told by the health authority to thoroughly check patients' identity. We expect a lot of complaints from patients who forgot to bring their ID cards," Jeong Gu-yeon, a 39-year-old nurse at a general clinic in central Seoul, told Aju Press.

Foreign workers and other eligible beneficiaries can verify their identity using their registration cards. Those who visit a clinic without a valid ID card will be responsible for the full cost of their medical care.

According to NHIS data, some 62 foreigners took an advantage of loopholes in health insurance regulations in 2022, accounting for 10.2 percent of all illegitimate beneficiaries. Of illegal cases caught by health authorities between 2015 and 2021, approximately 70 percent involved Chinese expats. A total of 331,384 foreign nationals illegally received benefits worth 31.6 billion won ($23 million) during that period.
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