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News&Welfare

Press Release

A Policy Package to Bring Essential Healthcare Back from the Brink of Collapse

  • Regdate2024-02-02 17:49
  • Hit2,171

The Eighth Public Engagement Roundtable:

Healthcare Reform to Save Lives and Local Communities

 

A Policy Package to Bring Essential Healthcare Back from the Brink of Collapse

 

- MOHW announces a four-throng healthcare reform package: more healthcare professionals; stronger local healthcare; safety nets for medical malpractice; and fairer compensation framework -

 

- The package includes a new presidential committee to add momentum to the initiative -

 

 

On February 1, 2024 (Thursday), the Republic of Korea (ROK) government held the eighth public engagement roundtable on “Healthcare Reform to Save Lives and Local Communities” at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital.

 

The roundtable saw a wide attendance from citizens, healthcare professionals, and experts, who joined the event to explain the reality of essential healthcare services in local communities and discuss fundamental solutions to address them. The participants, which included parents of young children and heads of small and medium clinics, pointed out the need for more healthcare professionals and stronger local healthcare to ensure wider access to pediatric and emergency care.

 

Healthcare professionals and experts stressed the need for increasing compensation for essential healthcare services and a more stable healthcare environment, which included lowering the burden of malpractice litigation so that professionals can focus on treating their patients.

 

The government promised to implement ambitious healthcare reforms by fully accommodating the inputs from various participants so that all citizens can access the best quality healthcare services close to home whenever they need them.

 

As fundamental solutions to protect essential healthcare, the government announced a policy package setting forth the following goals.

 

First, the government will increase the number of healthcare professionals in the country. With Korea expected to face a shortage of around 15,000 healthcare professionals in 2035, the government will expand the admission quota for medical schools starting in 2025 and build a system to adjust the quota on a regular basis based on estimated demands. In addition, the government plans to increase support for better training at medical schools and improve the medical training and licensing framework so doctors can build sufficient clinical competency. Other plans include reducing the maximum consecutive work hours for residents, which is currently 36, to improve the residency training environment, and gradually transitioning to resident-centered hospital operation.

 

Second, the government will strengthen local healthcare. It will focus on fostering national university hospitals and local private/public hospitals so that local communities can access a complete set of essential healthcare services. The government will also launch a pilot project to innovate local healthcare for stronger cooperation networks for essential services (provide support worth up to KRW 50 billion to selected regions over 3 years). In order to secure doctors to provide local communities with stable access to essential healthcare services, the government will greatly increase the medical school quota for local talents and introduce the contractual local essential doctor system. Other measures include expanding healthcare service prices tailored to local needs based on local healthcare maps and reviewing the formation of a new local healthcare development fund to increase investments in local healthcare.

 

Third, the government will build safety nets for medical malpractices. The plan involves a special rule that provides for exemption from criminal punishments in case of medical malpractice, on the caveat that all medical professionals subscribe to the relevant insurance or mutual aid plans. The rule allows medical professionals to focus on treating critical or emergency patients in a secure environment, while ensuring that patients receive rapid and sufficient compensation for malpractice. The government will also strengthen state compensation for no-fault malpractice such as the ones involving fetal delivery.

 

Fourth, the government will improve the fairness of the compensation system. By 2028, more than KRW 10 trillion will be invested to raise the prices of essential healthcare services. For essential fields incompatible with the fee-for-service system, the government will expand on the public policy fee and alternative payment schemes. Moreover, in order to prevent the distortion of healthcare delivery in the non-covered service market and address the imbalance in compensation, the government plans to prohibit claiming National Health Insurance payments for covered services provided along with excessive non-covered services for non-critical conditions, such as manual therapy (no mixed treatment). A comprehensive institutional reform, including an improved qualification scheme, is in the pipeline for cosmetic medicine, a field that has largely remained outside of government control so far.

 

The government will set up the Presidential Committee on Healthcare Reform to add momentum to the policy package and ensure the rapid establishment of an action roadmap for the initiative. It will also announce a comprehensive plan for the National Health Insurance to support the implementation of the policy package. ///


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