“Cuts in State Aid for Health Insurance Violate Citizens’ Health Rights”

A citizens’ group slammed the government and its party after an amendment to the National Health Insurance Act failed to pass the subcommittee of the National Assembly’s Health and Welfare Committee amid partisan disagreements on Thursday.

The amendment law contained the extension of the state financing of the statutory health insurance while at the same time abolishing a sunset clause.

The government and the ruling People Power Party (PPP) have strongly opposed permanent state aid for public health insurance, and the Treasury and Economy Department is calling for the financial aid to be extended by just one year, turning the aid into a year’s health insurance to strengthen their control,” said the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD).

In view of the low level of coverage and increasing health expenditure due to the rapid aging of the population, the state responsibility for health insurance should be strengthened. However, the plan by the government and the ruling party to cut state subsidies for health insurance amounts to a “waste of the public right to health”.

The PSPD pointed out that the government was not properly fulfilling the state’s support obligations as set out in the law. For example, under the National Health Insurance Act and the National Health Promotion Act, the government should provide 20 percent of estimated premium income to the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS).

“The government has not once implemented the state aid mandated by law, and this unpaid amount has accumulated to 27 trillion won since 2007,” it said. “In the Netherlands and France, the share of government subsidies exceeds 50 percent, and the corresponding share in Japan is also approaching 40 percent. The Taiwanese government is also shouldering more than 26 percent of the money.”

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The citizens’ group pointed out that Korea’s government subsidy level is low compared to these countries. Still, Yoon Suk-yeol’s government is attempting to further curb this by giving up government responsibility for health insurance.

“The Yoon administration is the first government since Kim Dae-jung’s government to seek to reduce insurance coverage without presenting a plan to increase it under the pretense of improving spending efficiency,” the group said. “Financial stability may be important, but the incumbent government is neutralizing the purpose of health insurance under the pretense of fiscal stability.”

She then called on the government and the ruling party to immediately abandon their anachronistic attempts, including cutting state health insurance subsidies and cutting medical coverage as part of austerity policies.

Less than a month remains until the Sunset Clause expires. Therefore, the government and its party must actively work together to expand state subsidies for health insurance and enact a permanent law to that end,” it said.

Another citizen movement group also issued a statement, making similar demands.

“What is the Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), which has promised to focus on improving public livelihood, doing now?” said the headquarters of the movement to prevent medicine privatization and realize free medical care. “Only nine PPP lawmakers influence DPK lawmakers on the Assembly’s Health and Welfare Committee. How can we call the DPK a party of public livelihoods when they won’t even abolish the forfeiture clause on the government health insurance subsidy?”

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The group also called on the parliamentary committee to abolish the sunset clause and drastically increase the subsidy to the level of countries with similar economic power as Korea.

Don’t put the burden on patients and people,” it exploded.