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Over 3,700 high-income workers make more than W110m monthly: data

By Park Jun-hee

Published : Jan. 29, 2024 - 15:00

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Over 3,700 high-income employees subscribed to the state-run health insurance scheme are earning more than 110 million won ($82,300) per month, paying a medical premium of 4 million won monthly, data showed Monday. The figure translates into an income of at least 1.32 billion won annually.

As of October last year, 3,791 people were categorized as employed subscribers paying the maximum amount for health insurance premiums in the data on the status of health insurance subscribers and monthly premium payers from 2019 to 2023, according to National Health Insurance Service data submitted to Rep. Choi Hye-young of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, who sits on the National Assembly Health and Welfare Committee.

The data also revealed that the upper limit for salary-based health insurance premiums, applicable to individuals with a decent income, was 7.82 million won. This means they personally covered half of this amount, or 3.91 million won, for monthly expenses, while the company they work for covered the other half.

The higher-income individuals were mostly owners of large corporations or small and medium-sized enterprises, professional chief executive officers and corporate executives receiving annual salaries of at least several billion won, according to the report.

National Tax Service data on the regional employment income status also showed on Saturday that the top 0.1 percent of wealthy workers in Seoul earned an average income of 1.4 billion won.

South Korea’s health insurance program is a type of mandatory social health insurance where premiums are deducted from the monthly salary for employees enrolled as a “workplace-based insured person” under the scheme. Noncorporate subscribers are responsible for making their own out-of-pocket contributions.

The salary-based health care fees are divided into two options. Employees can make monthly contributions, which is the cost of their monthly average wage multiplied by the contribution rate of 7.09 percent. The other option is income-based monthly premiums for health insurance, which are not based on monthly wages but on the comprehensive income tax.

Currently, the cap on insurance premiums is adjusted every year per the Enforcement Decree of the National Health Insurance Act by reflecting socioeconomic changes, such as wage increases.

The upper limit for salary-based premiums for January until December this year is 8.48 million won, up 658,000 won from last year, according to the NHIS, meaning corporate employers in the higher income group would pay around 4.24 million won monthly.