Medical expenses at South Korea’s five largest general hospitals reached a record high of 4.86 trillion won ($4.35 million) last year, a lawmaker’s report showed.
According to the report by Rep. Kim Seung-hee of the opposition Liberty Korea Party, submitted by the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS), medical expenses at the five hospitals amounted to 4.11 trillion won in 2017, accounting for 5.8 percent of the total medical costs of 70.81 trillion won in the nation.
The costs at the “Big Five” were up by 392.4 billion won last year from a year earlier. The figures have steadily increased from 2.7 trillion won in 2013 and exceeded 4 trillion won mark in 2017.
Not only the five largest hospitals but tertiary medical institutions have continued to earn more income from patient care.
The NHIS data showed that medical expenses at general hospitals took up 33.1 percent of the total medical costs last year, up 0.7 percent from a year earlier.
The proportion went up from 30.8 percent to 31 percent in 2014, to 31.6 percent in 2015, and to 32.4 percent in 2016.
“Even though the government pledged to improve the medical delivery system, the medical services are still concentrated in the five largest hospitals,” said Kim.
He added that the government’s healthcare schemes to lower medical bills for low-income earners would worsen the overcrowding at large hospitals. The government plans to expand the national health insurance coverage, to scrap non-reimbursable medical services and allow health insurance coverage for single or double patient rooms.
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