Performance of Universal Health Insurance: Lessons from South Korea
The aim of this study was to assess the maturity of the South Korean healthcare system in comparison with those of the 30 countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and to provide a foundation to evaluate the performance of the South Korean healthcare system. Using OECD Health Data 2005, we evaluated the performance of the healthcare system of the 30 industrialized countries. The evaluation focused on three dimensions that have remained central to healthcare debates internationally for years: access, cost and outcomes. Although South Korea has successfully implemented its universal health insurance scheme in a very short period of time and possesses highly advanced medical technologies, we found that South Koreans incurred more out-of-pocket expenditures on healthcare. Health outcomes were of relatively low quality compared with those of other OECD countries, but compared relatively well with the four countries (Greece, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain) with similar per capita gross domestic product (GDP).
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