Redefining Equality: South Korea’s Constitutional Court Rules Health Insurance Act Unconstitutional
Unconstitutional Health Insurance Act
In a landmark ruling, the Constitutional Court of South Korea has deemed the current National Health Insurance Act unconstitutional. The Act, as it stands, suspends health insurance benefits for foreign nationals if they default on their payments even once. This ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by a long-term foreign resident in Korea, who argued that this clause violated their constitutional right to equality.
Different Treatment for Foreign Nationals
The court did acknowledge the necessity of different treatment for foreign nationals, citing that it could be more difficult to collect insurance premiums from them and they could more easily evade their duty to pay. However, it also judged that the current clause severely deviates from a reasonable level and infringes upon the right to equality as it treats foreign nationals differently from Koreans.
Striking a Balance
The Court emphasised the importance of finding a balance between the pursuit of public interest in maintaining the soundness of insurance finances and providing minimum necessary treatment for low-income foreign subscribers. It cited Germany’s example of applying the same benefit restriction conditions to foreigners as Koreans and providing insurance benefits for minimum necessary treatment.
Deadline for Law Revision
In its ruling, the Court decided to maintain the effect of the clause until June 30, 2025, to allow the National Assembly to prepare an alternative after sufficient social consensus. If the law is not revised by this date, the clause will lose its effect, marking a significant shift in the approach towards health insurance coverage for foreign nationals in South Korea.
Implications and Future Directions
This ruling marks a significant step in redefining the constitutional right to equality in South Korea, particularly for foreign nationals. It also sets a precedent for similar lawsuits in the future, potentially paving the way for more inclusive and equitable health insurance policies in the country. However, it also brings with it the challenge of finding viable alternatives that ensure the sustainability of the health insurance system while protecting the rights of all its subscribers.
Subscribe to BNN Breaking
Sign up for our daily newsletter covering global breaking news around the world.