Medical expenses related to smoking, drinking and obesity stand at around W6.70 trillion a year, or more than 14 percent of payouts by the National Health Insurance Corporation, according to a report released by the Health Insurance Policy Research Institute on Monday.
The figure has risen 43.7 percent in four years from W4.65 trillion in 2007 to W6.69 trillion in 2011 out of a total of W46.24 trillion paid by National Health Insurance for medical care.
Specifically, the costs for smoking jumped 48.7 percent to W1.56 trillion in 2011 from W1.05 trillion in 2007, and those for drinking increased 42.7 percent to W2.43 trillion from W1.70 trillion. Spending on obesity treatment also saw a 41.9 percent increase from W1.89 trillion in 2007 to W2.69 trillion in 2011.
The institute conducted a follow-up survey of medical records for some 7.7 million people who had medical checkups in 2001 and 2002 and calculated the increase in their medical costs caused by smoking, drinking and obesity over time.
"We need to raise cigarette taxes and impose a levy for health promotion on alcoholic drinks and food that causes obesity," said Lee Sun-mi, a researcher at the institute.