Private Health Insurance in Korea

Category : Health/Fitness / Surviving in Korea / Visa/Legal Issues/Tax
Mar 24, 2015

Private Health Insurance in Korea


If you’ll be living in South Korea or already are, you don’t really need private health insurance. You have come to the land where national health insurance is abundant. There is plenty to go around, even for foreign nationals. If you don’t know about it, read up because it’s awesome, and then go apply for it. Take a trip to the doc for a fun weekend activity because that’s how efficient and cheap it is. That might be a bit of a stretch, but in any case, look into the National Health Insurance (NHI) before you throw down won for private plans.

à Check out the article on Korean National Health Insurance to learn more.


If you’re still worried about health coverage in the country, by all means get private insurance. Private insurance policies can extend to areas where the national coverage won’t. For example, if you are seriously injured, or you are in critical care or a vegetative state, NHI won’t cover costs to fly you back to your home country, but private insurance will.


Reasons to Choose a Private Insurance Plan


You need specific coverage that the NHI doesn’t provide.

I honestly don’t know what that may be, aside from the example mentioned above, because the national plan is very comprehensive. But if that is the case, a private plan will cover you when the national plan won’t. The NHI doesn’t cover non-essential treatments, like plastic surgery and other cosmetic procedures. It also doesn’t cover all semi-medical treatments like a visit to the chiropractor, but it does cover most natural medical treatments such as Traditional Korean herb prescriptions and acupuncture.


You are living in Korea as a permanent resident (F-series visas), and you are very sick and/or you have children that visit the doctor often.

In this case, you may find that additional care is necessary especially if you are running into serious health problems like cancer, diabetes, frequent pediatric check-ups or prolonged hospital stays. It’s a good idea to double up on health insurance in these particular cases because although the NHI is a great plan, the deductible payments (the portion you must pay even with coverage) can still add up quickly over time. Purchasing a private plan can become cost effective when you’re using the system regularly for expensive procedures.


àNote: Most Koreans do buy additional private insurance even if they aren’t seriously ill. It can be useful if you want to pay a very small price for hospital visits, in the range of 5,000KRW for most anything. However, if you don’t visit the doctor much, you should do the math before signing up for more. You simply might not need medical care enough to make up for the price of private health insurance.


You don’t have an Alien Registration Card (ARC) –You are a tourist.

An ARC proves you have a legal visa to be working and living in the country. Without this card you can’t apply for NHI, and therefore, you will need your own coverage. Tourists are unable to get ARC so make sure you get private travelers’ insurance from your home country before you arrive in Korea.


You are waiting for your ARC to arrive.

You’ve come to Korea legally and you have a visa in your passport, but you still need to apply for your ARC. This process can take more than a month, especially if you don’t visit immigration within a few days of arrival. You will need to be insured for the period without an ARC. It’s best to buy travelers’ insurance from your home country for about 2 months.


àNote: Make sure that your employer gives you time to go to immigration to get your ARC and helps you with your application. It is their legal duty to do so and it is essential that you have this card as quickly as possible.


You are a student here on exchange.

You can still apply for NHI since you will have a D-2 visa and an ARC, but it may be cheaper to keep your student insurance from home if it covers you while on exchange or if you will be traveling a lot before or after your exchange term in Korea. As well, you will only be in Korea for a few months, so it could be a huge hassle to get NHI. Look into different options before your pay for one type of insurance over the other. If you are a full-time student completing your degree in Korea, apply for NHI. It’s half the price for students as it is for employees on a salary.


You’ve just had a baby in Korea (in the case of two foreign nationals).

NHI covers newborns for 30 days. From that point on the baby needs to be registered under the parent’s coverage to receive NHI. In order to do so, the baby must have an ARC and be a registered immigrant. The ARC process often takes more than 30 days to complete. Therefore, you will need to buy private insurance to cover your baby during the transition period after the NHI newborn insurance runs out and before the baby can be registered under the family NHI.


Private Insurance Plans


There are hundreds of companies that offer private insurance all over the world and some that are only in Korea. If you are a traveler, buy travelers’ insurance from your home country before you board the plane.


Korean Private Insurance

For these private plans you also must have NHI, so that means you must have a legal visa and an ARC. Companies like LIG, and Eduins from Korea also offer private plans to Korean nationals and to expats living in Korea. The private plans are generally very similar. They cover a wide range of medical procedures and medications. The main purpose of these plans is to keep your medical costs very low and they work to supplement the NHI.


àNote: You must purchase private insurance for each individual who requires insurance. Unlike the NHI which covers dependants, private insurance does not. There are family plans available at certain companies.


Example Plan from LIG in 2012


The Fundamental Coverage:

  1. 90% coverage for accidents or sickness that requires prolonged hospital stays when treatments exceed 2 million KRW. This includes coverage when the NHI does not provide compensation.
  2. Coverage for outpatient accident or sickness that exceeds 10,000KRW in a clinic, 15,000KRW in a hospital and 20,000KRW in a specialized hospital.
  3. Coverage of prescribed medications that exceeds 8,000KRW.


The Plan Does Not Cover (the following list is a general overview, for specifics visit LIG):

  1. Treatments, procedures and prescription medications for past medical problems that fall under the “Duty of Declaration before Agreement” (meaning you must declare all your previous ailments and diseases to the insurance company and you will not be covered for those).
  2. Damage that happens during certain kinds of accidents such as sky-diving, fishing, operating a ferry or motorbike, or “similar dangerous activities”. (But not to worry because the NHI does cover for these accidents so you won’t need to stop driving your ferry anytime soon.)
  3. Medical expenses:
  • for the treatment of mental or behavior disorders
  • for pregnant women
  • for problems caused by obesity
  • for certain kinds of vitamins and supplements
  • for brain diseases
  1. Problems caused by suicide attempts or other intentional harm
  2. Childbirth, abortion, or baby related operations
  3. Harm caused by natural disasters (although there is an option to get covered for this)
  4. Expenses for medical appliances



LIG Insurance has two basic policy plans. These plans are inexpensive but remember you will also be paying into your national health insurance plan.


àNote: Keep in mind that costs can add up. In some cases private insurance might be more than valuable, while in other cases it’s simply a waste of money.


The plans are almost identical with the second one covering slightly more costs. The insurance is only for those aged 15 to 65. It also differs for students and employed persons.

Premium (12 Months) / Plan

Plan X1 (accident and sickness coverage up to 10 million KRW)

Plan X2 (accident and sickness coverage up to 20 million KRW)

Gender / Age

12 Months total price



Male 25 years old

12 Months total price



Female 25 years old

12 Months total price



Male 35 years old

12 Months total price



Female 35 years old


Visit the LIG website for more information. The website is in Korean, but you can chat to English-speaking sales representatives by calling 1544-0114.


Global Private Insurance

These plans differ from the Korean plans in that they are full coverage packages. You do not need NHI in order to also have this private insurance. All the plans differ and they can be tailored specifically to you: your health conditions, living situation, travel plans and visa status. You must check directly with the companies to find a plan that fits you.


I contacted PacificPrime in December 2012. This company compares multiple insurance companies at once according to a profile you send them. It’s a convenient service and certainly cuts down on tedious researching. I told PacificPrime to give me a general quote for a 26 year old Canadian female living in South Korea. I asked her to include dental coverage but not maternity coverage. The plans all include inpatient and outpatient coverage. Some of the plans include things like chiropractor visits, treatment for chronic conditions, and rehabilitation care. The cheapest plan called Gold Plus from IMG Fusion is 93.00USD per month. The most expensive plan is 257.00USD per month. It’s the Plus plan from Globality Health. As would be expected the most expensive plan does provide the most comprehensive coverage and includes all the extras mentioned above. However, the least expensive plan is still very good –better than some middle priced plans.

Tags : Health. Insurance.

Lindsey lived and worked in Seoul, South Korea for over 5 years. While there, she dabbled in different areas of work and explored the culture. She spent time teaching elementary students, business English to adults and high school students about college preparation. She also studied Korean, wrote blogs and tasted as many foods as she possibly could including fermented skate fish. Over the years, Lindsey developed a love for Korea and the culture. She is keen to share her knowledge of Korea with others and she will always consider Korea a second home.