The Korea Herald


All residents with disabilities to get personal doctor

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : Nov. 21, 2023 - 15:19

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A man uses a wheelchair to get around a hospital. (Yonhap) A man uses a wheelchair to get around a hospital. (Yonhap)

All South Korean residents with disabilities will have their health condition monitored and checked by a personal doctor, according to a plan approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday.

Upon approval, the Ministry of Health and Welfare will launch the fourth-stage and last pilot project in February next year, ahead of the planned rollout of the personal health care system nationwide, ministry officials said.

Aimed at providing access to personalized medical attention for individuals with disabilities, the system was introduced in May 2018, but currently only people with disabilities categorized as "severe" are entitled to receive benefits.

The timeline for the expanded coverage has not yet been decided.

As of the end of 2022, 2.65 million people in South Korea are registered as having a disability. That is about 5.2 percent of the country's total population.

Under the proposed change, all public health and medical institutions -- including local medical centers and university hospitals -- designated as national health screening centers must provide health examination services for individuals with disabilities.

Visits to their attending physician are limited to from four times per year for people with "mild" disabilities up to 24 times per year for "severe" disabilities, according to the ministry's disability grading system. The recipients must cover 10 percent of the incurred medical costs.

Over the next two to three years, medical institutions will be required to create a barrier-free environment for people with disabilities to utilize their facilities and services freely and safely.

Public medical institutions will be required to be certified as barrier-free living environments and must do so within two years, while others have an additional year to meet the deadline.