Senior Citizens Take Up 1/3 of Nation's Medical Bill

The growing medical expenses of senior citizens aged 65 or older has been cited as a main reason for Korea's snowballing medical bill.

In a report published on Sunday, the National Health Insurance Corporation said the nation’s medical expenses reached W46.24 trillion in 2011, up W2.61 trillion from a year earlier and 2.5 times higher than a decade ago (US$1=W1,127).

The costs incurred by those aged 65 or over accounted for 33.3 percent of the total at W15.38 billion, up 8.8 percent from W14.14 billion in 2010.

While Korea’s average per-capital medical expenses grew 5.1 percent on-year to W940,000, those aged 65 or over spent W2.96 million per person, compared to W700,000 among other age groups.

A staffer with the NHIC said senior citizens’ monthly medical expenses grew from W94,405 per person in 2002 to W247,166 last year. Due to Korea's aging population, this trend is likely to become a bigger burden on taxpayers in the future, he added.

englishnews@chosun.com / Mar. 19, 2012 09:32 KST