When we arrive at KDI School, unless you oppose, the school signs you up to Dongbu Insurance’s Foreigner plan (www.foreignerinsu.com), which is basically works through a reimbursement system: You get sick, get medical attention, pay it yourself, and then submit the receipts to the insurance company online. After some time (reportedly a few weeks or even a month), you will get your money back, minus a pretty big deductible, depending on your kind of sickness. The more serious the illness, the more you get back.
For example, if you only had a cold and spend 55,000 KRW in curing yourself, you will get 17,000 reimbursed. If you had to undergo surgery because of an accident playing football on our artificial turf (there were many of these this year), and you spend 3,000,000 KRW, you only get back 2,700,000. If you are riding a bike and bump into someone, and spend 175,000 KRW in medical expenses, you only get 150,000 back. (source)
The problem with this insurance, apart from not covering family members, dental problems, and who-knows-what-else, is that there is no limit on what you can pay, and you have to pay first. If you got hurt while playing in the KDI court and you had to pay 3 million won, that’s a lot of money. You may get some of it back, but until then? Or, for example, let’s say you end up needing a third molar extraction (wisdom tooth), which, depending on how hard it is, could set you back over 200-300 thousand won with no refund!
Fortunately, the Korean National Health Insurance is also open to foreigners, including foreigner students, and it has much better conditions.
The plan works like this: You sign up, pay a monthly amount, get your alien registration number marked as being in the insurance system, and then you have insurance until you cancel it or stop paying. It works on a discount system instead of reimbursement. When you go to a doctor’s office or hospital, they will ask you for your Alien Registration Card, they will automatically see that you are in the insurance plan and charge you a lot less money. You still pay but there’s now a limit to how much you have to pay and the discount also applies to your prescription meds! (like if it wasn’t cheap enough already!)
How to sign up:
My recommendation is that when you arrive as a new student you ask the school not to sign you up so they won’t deduct the Dongbu insurance charge from your monthly stipends (if you are on a scholarship). If you already have it, there’s no use cancelling, so just forget about it for now and sign up to the National one.
Go to the National Health Insurance office. For us, the nearest one is in Jochiwon. I am not sure if you have to go to the one that corresponds to your city, but for me in KDI School, it was easier to go to Jochiwon than deep into the heart of Daejeon.
Fortunately, 991 bus takes us almost directly to the office. Take 991 bus in school towards the bus terminal and settle for a long ride. It will take about 40-50 minutes. The stop is called “대동초등학교” (it means Daedong Elementary School). Pay attention to the announcements or to the environment. After going straight for a long time, and getting into the high-rise apartment area of Jochiwon, the bus will make a right turn at a traffic light. At this moment, press the button or go to the front of the bus to get off.
When you get off, you will be in front of an NH bank and many small shops. Across the street there’s a big red brick church and the elementary school to the left. Since the office is to the left, you need to cross the street. When you are on the church side, you will have to take a taxi because there’s no bus here.
Get on it and you can either show him the address: 세종특별자치시 연서면 아홉거리길 100
or simply tell it to go straight “TOKPARO KA JUSEYO”, pass two traffic light intersections (the school one and a major one with a long green pedestrian bridge, before you reach the intersection where you will find the office to your left.
Once in the office, a greeter will meet you, but they will pass you directly to the middle booth because they don’t speak English. The person there speaks almost no English, but they will do their best. I did not struggle at all.
Be sure to take your alien resident card and 45,000 krw cash (the fee for students, they take cards but they charge a commission). They asked me for an enrollment certificate, but I didn’t have it and I showed them my school ID. It appeared to be enough. They also ask for your bank account number, they deduct the amount every month (45,000) and will send you a bill every month to the address registered in your alien card.
Remember they charge you every month 45,000 KRW. I suppose that if you get sick one time it is already worth the expense. For example, I needed some wisdom teeth extractions that were very complicated and needed to be done in a hospital. The rate was about 300,000 total and I ended up paying around 20 or 30 thousand. I don’t remember exactly but the discount was 80 or 90%, really good making the insurance really worthwhile.
If you want more details on the coverage, try their English website: http://www.nhic.or.kr/static/html/wbd/g/a/wbdga0101.html However, a lot of the info is not updated and their foreigners phone number is a disaster: they never answer.
Do you think its worth the expense? Have you found the Korean National Health Insurance useful? Share your stories!