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Medical Spending on Elderly Rises 300 Pct.

Posted December. 22, 2009 14:10,   


The number of senior citizens in the country aged 65 or older has increased 40 percent over the past six years, but medical spending on this age group has shot up 300 percent.

Korea is also seeing more people living alone, families with grandparents raising their grandchildren, and families in which members live in different places.

Poorly performing students in Western countries get private tutoring, but better students in Korea get more tutoring.

A national report on social trends released by Statistics Korea yesterday said the elderly population rose from 3.22 million in 2001 to 4.39 million in 2007. Over the same period, health insurance premiums paid to the elderly by the National Health Insurance Corp. rose threefold from 2.3 trillion (1.9 billion U.S. dollars) to 6.9 trillion won (5.8 billion dollars).

A statistics official said, “This is because the number of elderly with chronic illnesses increased, and more people used expensive medical services. In addition, healthy life expectancy did not increase as much as life expectancy did.”

Healthy life expectancy refers to life expectancy excluding the period in which people cannot properly play a societal role due to health.

National life expectancy rose 2.1 years from 76.5 in 2001 to 78.6 in 2005, but healthy life expectancy increased just 1.2 years from 67.4 to 68.6 over the same period.

Single-member households increased from 12.7 percent of all households in 1995 to 20.1 percent last year. The share of families whose breadwinner is a woman rose from 16.6 percent to 22.1 percent.

The number of families in which grandparents raised their grandchildren because of the parents’ remarriage, divorce, death, abandonment or going missing increased 65.1 percent over the past decade from 35,194 in 1995 to 58,101 in 2005.

The share of families living in different places for study or work at home or abroad was 16.5 percent last year.

The academic performance of 15-year-old Korean students was among the best in the world. In 2006, Korea ranked first in reading, first to fourth in types of math, and seventh to 13th in science subjects among 36 countries.

Among students with an academic performance dubbed “above excellent” in 2003, 17.9 percent of American students and 9.6 percent of British students received private tutoring, while 83.7 percent of Korean students did so.

Koreans and their government, however, spent just 4.5 percent of GDP on culture and leisure activities in 2005, the lowest among member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation Development.

Iceland spent 9.9 percent of GDP on culture and leisure activities; the U.K. 8.6 percent; the U.S. 6.7 percent; France 6.7 percent; Japan 6.3 percent; and Germany 5.9 percent.