As of July 2019, it became mandatory for all foreigners living in Korea longer than 6 months to sign up for the Korean National Healthcare Insurance Service (NHIS) program. There are two types of health insurance in South Korea: employee health insurance (insured by your workplace), and self-employed health insurance (national insurance). In this article, we will be talking about the latter!
If you are a foreigner whose visa is sponsored by your company, you do not have to worry about enrolling or canceling your healthcare plan. If you are self-employed – freelancers on F visas or H1 Working Holiday Visas, or working part-time for a Korean business – you are required to pay at least 114,000 won per month if you have been in Korea for 6 months or longer. You will also be responsible for notifying the NHIS office should any changes regarding your status as a resident occur.
But what happens if you are enrolled in the Korean National Health Insurance Service and decide to leave Korea before your visa has expired? Below is a bit of information about Korean National Healthcare Insurance and how to cancel your plan yourself should you decide to leave Korea sooner than expected!
All residents of South Korea (those not on tourist visas) are required to be enrolled in the National Healthcare Insurance System after 6 months of living in Korea. This means you are documented as a resident of the country and have an active ARC card. Tourists just visiting South Korea cannot register for health insurance. Students on D2 or D4 visas are not required to apply, however, D2 visa holders can apply for insurance through their universities if they wish.
Each month you will receive a bill to the address registered on your ARC card with the amount you are responsible for paying. Paying your monthly bill is simple, you can set up an automatic bank transfer, pay the amount monthly through bank transfer, or pay in person at the bank. You will need to pay the amount owed before the date stated on your bill each month. The bills usually arrive between the 15th to 17th each month and payment is usually due before the 25th.
If you are living in South Korea on a Working Holiday Visa and stay the full length of your visa, or you are on a different visa and plan to leave the country for over 30 days, your service will automatically be terminated after 30 days of your visa ending/you leaving the country. If you decide to leave before your visa expiration date, however, you will be responsible for informing the NHIS center of your departure date.
If you have decided to leave Korea for good, you will need to call the number listed on the top of your monthly bill – they have a number for Koreans and foreigners – and notify the attendant of your scheduled departure date and that you do not plan on re-entering South Korea within 30 days. They will then terminate your enrollment in the health insurance system from the appropriate date. If you do not call before you leave South Korea to terminate your enrollment in the health insurance service, you will continue to be issued monthly bills and will be required to pay the total amount even though you were not in the country.
It is advised that you call a little over one month before the day you plan to leave, otherwise, you might have to pay for additional time after you leave depending on how your departure date coincides with the monthly payment dates. One of my friends did not know she had to cancel her National Health Service enrollment and called two weeks before she was supposed to leave at the beginning of March, which resulted in her having to pay for the entire month of March even after she left South Korea.
If you return to South Korea in the future on a different visa, you will have to wait 6 months before you can enroll in the health insurance system again. If you don’t want to wait 6 months to re-apply and have already been enrolled in the health insurance plan for one year, you can apply for 임의계속가입 (Continuation of Coverage). This means that your health insurance will remain active even after you leave the country and you will continue to pay the same amount monthly while you are away. This is not an option after you have left South Korea, so make sure to enroll in this before leaving the country!