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South Korea – Healthcare

Medical services in South Korea are generally in high levels.  Highly advanced medical fields in South Korea include ophthalmology, spinal surgery, dentistry, plastic surgery, heart surgery and infertility treatment. With the rapidly increasing number of foreigners visiting or residing in South Korea, more medical facilities have opened international clinics and have sought to provide medical services that best meet foreigners’ medical needs and global standards.

The National insurance system is provided for all South Koreans in 2 categories being Workplace Medical insurance and Community Medical insurance for people who are not working. Foreigners can also be subject for the National care system depending on their work visa type.  (

Generally the National insurance will cover 60 to 70% of total medical payment.
The National care system divides hospitals into 3 categories and people will have to visit the 1stcategories’ hospitals first (usually small hospitals in the residing or working area) and with the letter/recommendation of the first hospital, the patient would go to the 2ndand 3rdcategory hospitals which are general hospitals.  If you don’t follow the steps and go directly to the 3rdcategory general hospital you would not have the benefit from the National Insurance and will have to pay the whole medical bill on your own.

Travel insurance such as International SOS or any private insurance may be accepted but you will need to check with the hospital before you visit.

Appointments are recommended before you visit the hospitals in South Korea. Emergency rooms are practically working only in 3rdcategory general hospitals and all are crowded at all times. So unless it is really urgent and serious, it may be better to visit the ER in the hospital you have visited or make appointments with the doctors you want to visit.

Last update: 26 February 2020