Medical in Korea

Health Insurance Coverage for Surgery in South Korea: A Guide for Foreigners

As a global leader in advanced healthcare services, South Korea draws numerous foreign residents and medical tourists annually. This article will provide an extensive guide on the health insurance coverage for surgery in South Korea for foreigners.

A Look into the Korean National Health Insurance (KNHI)

The Korean National Health Insurance (KNHI) is a single-payer, universal health coverage system operational in South Korea. As a compulsory scheme, all residents, including foreigners who have lived in South Korea for more than six months, are required to enrol.

What Does It Cover?

The KNHI covers about 60% of the total cost for most surgical procedures. However, the actual coverage can vary, depending on factors like the type of surgery, the location (city or countryside), and the hospital type (community-based hospitals or tertiary hospitals).

Payment System and Contribution

The monthly premium for the KNHI is calculated based on your income, property, and living standard. It is not calculated on an individual’s health risk or age, making it accessible and affordable.

Where and How to Apply?

Application for the KNHI can be done online on the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) website or in person at the local NHIS offices.

Health Insurance Options for Short-Term Visitors

Short-term visitors who are not eligible for the KNHI can resort to travel medical insurance, which can cover the medical costs, including surgeries, if required, during their stay in South Korea.

Coverage Details

Typically, travel medical insurance policies cover emergency medical expenses, accidental injury, emergency evacuation, and sometimes, death and dismemberment.


Various international insurance companies provide travel medical insurance. It’s advisable to compare policies from different providers before making a choice.

Private Health Insurance for Extended Coverage

For a more comprehensive coverage, you can consider private health insurance. These policies can cover additional medical expenses not fully covered by the KNHI, like the cost of elective surgeries and advanced medical treatments.

How Does It Work?

The coverage scope and premiums vary among different providers and plans. Commonly, private health insurance plans can be tailored to individual needs, making them more flexible than the KNHI.


Numerous Korean insurance companies such as Samsung Life, Kyobo Life, and Hanwha Life offer a wide range of private health insurance policies.

Choosing the Right Health Insurance: Factors to Consider

The choice of health insurance depends on various factors, such as the duration of your stay, your overall health status, your financial situation, and the type of medical services you might need.

Why Health Insurance is Crucial?

Medical costs in South Korea, particularly for surgical procedures, can be significantly high. Appropriate health insurance coverage helps you avoid financial stress and allows you to concentrate on recovery.

In summary, understanding the landscape of health insurance coverage for surgeries in South Korea is crucial for both long-term residents and short-term visitors. Make sure to thoroughly understand the terms and conditions of your health insurance policy to circumvent unforeseen difficulties and expenses.


Final Words

Understanding the health insurance landscape, particularly as it relates to surgery in South Korea, is crucial for all foreign residents. By being informed, you can ensure a smooth experience, should you ever need surgery during your stay in this dynamic country.

For more in-depth information about healthcare and health insurance in South Korea, you may want to consult the resources available on the official National Health Insurance Service website.

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