Congressional Briefing - July 15, 2009

Korea's Experience in Harmonizing Public and Private Health Insurance Systems for Universal Coverage

South Korea emergency care center, photo courtesy of


Wednesday, July 15, 2009


2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.


212 Capitol Visitors Center
Washington, D.C.

About the Program

As U.S. health care reform dominates the congressional debate, policymakers are looking not only to finance health reform but also to find ways to bring down costs, expand coverage and access, improve quality, and expand wellness and prevention. One of the main issues central to the debate is whether to include a government-run option for coverage (i.e., a public plan).

Since Korea introduced the National Health Insurance Corporation in 1989, it has achieved universal coverage through a combination of public and private health plans. Since then, Korea has controlled its health care expenditures, with health care costs taking up 6.4 percent of GDP in 2006. At the same time, indicators show that public health has improved dramatically. Korea's infant mortality rate, which stood at 7.7 deaths in 1,000 live births in 1996, fell to 4.26 in 2009. Furthermore, the quality of health care facilities and service is on a par with that of the most advanced nations. There may be lessons learned from Korea's reform experience from which the United States can draw.

Join us as Minister Jae-Hee Jeon, of Korea's Ministry for Health, Welfare, and Family Affairs, and scholars from the Korean National Health Insurance Corporation and the RAND Corporation convene on Capitol Hill to discuss what has worked in Korea and what lessons the United States can draw from Korea's reform experience.

Note: 212 SVC is located in the new Capitol Visitor Center. Entrance is through the First Street doors on the East side of the Capitol across from the Supreme Court. Enter the SVC entrance and check in at the Senate appointment desk, which is located one floor down to the right. Please RSVP to be placed on the guest list. If you are not on the guest list, you may still attend; however, check-in will take longer so please allow for extra time.

Featured Speakers

Michael Rich Executive Vice President, RAND Corporation
Jae Hee Jeon Minister for Health, Welfare, and Family Affairs, Republic of Korea
Woojin Chung Head, Health Insurance Policy Research Institute
Yo Han In President, Medical Center for the Foreign Patients, Yonsei Hospital
Melinda Beeuwkes
Buntin, PhD
Associate Director, Program in Economics, Finance, and Organization
Director, Public-Sector Initiatives, RAND Health
Moderated by:
Tom McNaugher Director, RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy
Chaibong Hahm Senior Political Scientist, RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy

RAND Office of Congressional Relations

For more than 60 years, RAND has provided policymakers with independent, objective research and analysis on key national security, domestic, and international issues. RAND work helps members of Congress and their staffs make better-informed decisions on the nation's pressing challenges. The Office of Congressional Relations offers a number of products and services to educate, inform, and facilitate congressional policymakers' access to RAND work, including coordinating congressional testimony by RAND experts, organizing briefings and meetings, synthesizing RAND work into topical e-newsletters and providing reports and publications to congressional offices. For more information, visit the Office of Congressional Relations Web page, contact, or call (703) 415-1100 x5395.