The state health insurance agency paid nearly 4 trillion won ($3.37 billion) reimbursements to the nation’s five largest hospitals last year, which was up 25.7 percent on-year, government data showed.
The so-called Big Five hospitals are Samsung Medical Center, Asan Medical Center, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, and Severance Hospital.
According to statistics by the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS), it paid 3.97 trillion won reimbursements to the five hospitals in 2018, up by 812.2 billion won from 3.16 trillion won in 2017.
The 25.7 percent rise last year was the steepest in the past five years. In 2017, the annual increase was only 2.5 percent (77 billion won).
Both reimbursements for inpatient and outpatient care surged at the five largest hospitals last year. The reimbursements for inpatient medical care at the five climbed 27.4 percent on-year to 2.57 trillion won last year, and those for outpatient care, 22.6 percent to 1.39 trillion won.
The reimbursements paid to the five largest hospitals accounted for 35.5 percent of the payments paid to 42 tertiary hospitals. Those paid to the Big Five took up 8.5 percent of the total reimbursements for medical institutions, and the proportion last year was the largest in the past five years.
The reimbursements paid to medical institutions on average went up 11 percent last year from 2017, but those for tertiary hospitals jumped 28.7 percent.
In contrast, the reimbursements paid to general hospitals and smaller hospitals increased only 11 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively. The increase rates at the smaller hospitals were less than half of those at tertiary hospitals.
Reimbursements paid to neighborhood clinics on average stood at 360 million won last year, up 8 percent from a year earlier, and those for nursing hospitals, 2.7 billion won, up 6.5 percent.
Monthly medical cost for a person aged 65 or more on average recorded 378,657 won in 2018, up 9.4 percent from a year earlier. The nation has 7.09 million people, 13.9 percent of the total population, who are aged 65 or more and covered by the national health insurance program. However, medical costs for them stood at 31.65 trillion won, accounting for 40.8 percent of the total medical expenses in the nation.
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