Glimpse of Korea’s Healthcare System

According to Microtrend, life expectancy is 83.5 years in 2022 in South Korea which is one of the highest numbers in the world. Koreans are living healthier and longer than ever before thanks to the healthcare system in Korea. This is a drastic improvement since Koreans had an average life expectancy at birth of 52.4 years in 1960, 16 years below the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) average. Let’s look at their healthcare system and see why Koreans are living longer and healthier life.

Healthcare System

Government made regular check-up easily available and made it very convenient for its citizens. For example, if you are over 40, you will get an email indicating you’ll need to go in for an annual check-up. The email indicates the list of check-ups you need to get at a specific age. Ministry of Health does this not only to prevent any diseases or illnesses of its citizens but also to save medical expenses overall since it’s easier and quicker to treat it if found early.

Number of Hospital Beds  

Korea has some of the highest levels of supply of hospital services amongst OECD countries. While other OECD countries have been bolstering community based-services and reduced the number of hospital bed, Korea has seen a major expansion of the hospital sector. In 2013, the country had the highest number of hospital beds and the longest average length of stay across the OECD. This goes to show that hospitals are easily accessible nation-wide.

Convenience

It doesn’t matter how good something is, it has to be easily accessible for everyone. I went in for an annual check-up and everything I needed was in one building. The building had doctor’s office from all different fields on one floor. From dental office to ENT, it had all the doctors! I was amazed as to how systematic and convenient it was that you can solve all your problems in one building. What’s even more convenient is that some of these hospitals often offer a ride to the closest subway station or bus station if they are not within close proximity.

Affordability

You can easily compare the average cost of root canal in U.S and in Korea from Google. You’ll notice that it only cost a fraction of what U.S is charging. Thanks to the public health insurance in Korea, hospitals are relatively affordable compared to other parts of the world not to mention that Korea offers best doctors and technology.  

Food

There’s a saying that “You are what you eat”. Food plays are major part of our health. Koreans generally eat healthy although the rate of obesity has gone up in the last decade or so. Koreans eat a lot of vegetables as their side dishes and fermented food such as kimchi and bean stew add to the healthy diet. Koreans don’t have lots of fried food in their meal and they do not like food that contains too much sugar. Little difference in life-style does make a big difference in the long-run.

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