The Political Economy of National Health Insurance in Korea

  • Huck-Ju Kwon
  • Byongho Tchoe
Part of the Social Policy in a Development Context book series (SPDC)


National Health Insurance (NHI) is one of the main contours of the Korean welfare state. It was introduced in 1977 and extended to cover the whole population in 1988/9. In fact, the history of NHI goes back to 1962 when it was first considered by the military government. In 2000, the fragmented health funds within NHI were integrated into the National Health Insurance Corporation as a single insurer. This integration was an important volte-face in the social policy paradigm after the long period of the economy-first approach in which the ‘productive workers’ were the priority of social protection rather than vulnerable people. The integration reform aims not only to widen the risk pool of health insurance but also to enhance equity by redistributing financial responsibility for NHI.


National Health Insurance Health Expenditure Lower Income Group Health Fund Authoritarian Government 
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Copyright information

© United Nations Research Institute for Social Development 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Huck-Ju Kwon
  • Byongho Tchoe

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