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S. Korea’s welfare system has a long way to go

Posted August. 11, 2018 07:16,   

Updated August. 11, 2018 07:16


The government’s welfare schemes often include measures to “cut down expenses” for recipients to pay for basic needs and health services. By doing so, recipients can save their money though they are not directly provided with cash from the government.

The most representative example would be benefits to help people reduce medical expenses for services that are not covered by a health insurance. If diagnosed with one of the five types of cancer, namely stomach, liver, breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer, patients can receive 2 million won (2.2 million won for medical care recipients) a year for a total of three years. Also, if a household of four with a monthly income of 4,613,536 won or less (100 percent of median income) needs to spend more than 20 percent of its annual income as medical expenses, the government covers up to 20 million won per year in the name of “catastrophic health expenditure.”

Vouchers are also used in the government’s welfare system. For example, pregnant women can receive a voucher worth 600,000 won, issued by a National Happiness Card, that can be used at hospitals, clinics, and maternity centers designated by the government. Also, the disabled are eligible for a voucher that they can use for getting help in the housework, visiting nursing or bathing services. People with the disability of level 1 can receive a voucher worth 1.27 million won a month, while those with level 4 can get 506,000 won. A senior citizen living alone with severe disabilities will be able to additionally receive up to 2,938,000 won.

Meanwhile, those in the low-income bracket are eligible for a voucher that can be used for culture and sports facilities. A voucher card worth 70,000 won per person can be used at movie theaters, bookstores, travel agencies, or baseball stadiums.

Children and adolescents aged from 5 to 18 can receive 80,000 won each month for taking classes, such as taekwondo, Korean martial art, swimming, or soccer. A voucher worth 100,000 won for forestry welfare services including recreational forests is also handed out each year.

Gun-Hee Cho becom@donga.com