Expats including ethnic Koreans from abroad with foreign passports and Korean expats overseas who retain Korean nationality from April must live in Korea for at least six months before gaining eligibility for the country's National Health Insurance (NHI).
The National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) on Jan. 24 announced an amendment to the National Health Insurance Act taking effect on April 3, which added the condition of at least six months of residence in the country for both groups to get such insurance in addition to registered employment, income and assets.
The NHIS said the revision seeks to prevent relatives of expats in Korea or Korean residents overseas from abusing the NHI, namely the relatives listed as dependents so that they can visit Korea for medical treatment and then leave the country.
Dependents like minors under age 19 or foreign spouses of Koreans are immediately eligible for health insurance if they have the following visas: D-2 (full-time degree or exchange student), D-4-3 (general training or elementary, middle and high school student), E-9 (non-professional worker), F-5 (permanent resident) and F-6 (spouse of Korean national).
The NHIS defines a dependent as someone who mainly relies on his or her employed children or relatives for living expenses. Both Korean and foreign nationals can get this designation if they meet the requirements.
By Kim Hyelin