OECD Reviews of Health Care Quality: Korea 2012

Raising Standards

image of OECD Reviews of Health Care Quality: Korea 2012

At a time when ever more information is available about the quality of health care, the challenge for policy makers is to better understand the policies and approaches that sit behind the numbers. Korea is the first country report in a new OECD series evaluating the quality of health care across OECD countries – whether care is safe, effective and responsive to patients’ needs. OECD Reviews of Health Care Quality examine what works and what does not work, both to benchmark the efforts of countries and to provide advice on reforms to improve quality of health care. This series of individual country reviews will be followed by a final summary report on the lessons learnt for good policy practices.

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Assessment and recommendations

Korea has undergone a remarkable increase in economic and human development over the past three decades. Rising standards of living have been accompanied by major improvements in the availability of health care services, underpinned by the rapid expansion of health insurance coverage. Remarkably, Korea today combines one of the highest life expectancies in the world with one of the lowest levels of health care expenditure amongst OECD countries (6.9% of GDP in 2009). Hospitals are more likely to be available, and equipped with cutting-edge medical technologies, than in most other OECD countries. Two decades of pursuing reform has not only expanded coverage but also delivered administrative savings through the consolidation of insurers under the publically-owned National Health Insurance Corporation. The development of the Korean health system over the past two decades serves as a model for countries seeking to deliver universal coverage for health care through social insurance at a reasonable cost.


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