In Korea, anyone wanting to receive insurance benefits needs to be formally diagnosed by a doctor in order to be registered with the National Health Insurance System (NHIS).
This applies even to people who have been living with type 1 diabetes for a long time. Unfortunately, in most cases even documents written by your home doctor won’t be accepted and new tests need to be made.
The tests, procedures and costs involved differ a bit from hospital to hospital, but the most important test is the C-Peptide test. Many clinics also include Hba1c, eye and urine exams as part of the registration for their own records. Some of the basic tests with and without insurance are listen in the checkup section. Depending on the clinic the full process costs around 60-80’000 won.
It is usually recommended to go on an empty stomach. Some hospitals don’t mind, others ask you to come back if you’ve eaten before. It is best to call and check with your local hospitals to save yourself a trip,
Once all the tests are completed, your personal details will be required such as your registration card number, contact number and address for the hospital’s records. Even if this is your first visit, the doctors are often able to provide you with a prescription for medicine or consumables, and especially in the case of insulin, many pharmacies are able to act on your behalf and request the insurance refund for you, leaving you to pay only the deductible right there and then. This process will be further described under prescriptions (TBC).
The results of the tests are usually available within a week. The hospital handles the NHI registration and within a few days you usually receive a text message stating when your next insurance refund date will be or when you can apply again.
From 2021.01.26 you can apply for refund for your diabetes consumables. The National Health Insurance.
The National Health Insurance Refund (Diabetes) is scheduled to be deposited after 4pm in your account (next available date: 03.29)
If you want to be sure and check, you can also call the NHIS call center at 1577-1000 directly. Several languages are available, such as English, Chinese and Vietnamese.
The steps to the National Health Insurance refund process can be found under NHIS.
For those who have been living with T1D for a while, you can continue with your regular visits for prescriptions (usually every 3 months but can be discussed with your doctor) and continue as normal.
For those newly diagnosed, the journey is only beginning, as not all hospitals give a lot of information in regards to insurance processes, insulin differences, carb counting, diabetes technology or even general diabetes management.
While a lot of it needs to be studied by each individual using online resources, hopefully this website and the communities can help and be of some assistance to you when it comes to life in Korea with T1D.