Analysis of Health-Related Programs for Senior Citizens
Published on 13 August 2019
Published by Social Administrative Program Evaluation Division of the Budget Analysis Department
In Korea, the aging population and the increasing medical expenses of senior citizens have made the enhancement of government programs for senior citizens’ health improvement and care a crucial policy task. The Korean population of senior citizens aged 65 and older totaled approximately 7.84 million in terms of registered residents in July 2019, representing 15.1% of the entire population. At the same time, the volume of seniors’ medical expenses represent over 40% of total medical expenses as of 2018.
This report aims to analyze the status of allocated State budget and funds in addition to policy implementation of health-related programs for senior citizens, including Long-Term Care Insurance, the National Responsibility Policy for Dementia Care, Hospice and Palliative Care as well as Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment. The implications are as follows:
First, it is necessary to enable efficient task distribution between delivery systems. Unnecessary hospitalization should be restricted by enabling patients with severe diseases to receive appropriate medical treatment from medical centers such as long-term care hospitals, while providing patients with mild illnesses care services via programs such as Long-Term Care Insurance. Also, the government should refrain from pursuing aggressive expansion of dementia care hospitals and long-term care centers specializing in dementia patients and first conduct a review of the need and roles of each institution.
Second, the government must conduct a thorough management and supervision of healthcare delivery systems. The government should enhance the quality of service and strengthen management measures in long-term care centers such as by developing an effective feedback system for evaluations, to prevent false and inappropriate allowance requests. Furthermore, dementia care hospitals should develop criteria for the appropriate composition of human resources while managing associated recruitment efforts.
Third, the government should aim ait creating a synergy effect between related programs. Senior citizens who are able to receive necessary nursing care at home without assistance from medical facilities should be able to receive appropriate treatment through home-visit nursing care, which is a home-based service provided under the long term care insurance, as well as home nursing services under the National Health Insurance scheme.
Fourth, programs to support disease prevention and health improvement should be promoted. In particular, since the Seniors' Health Diagnosis Scheme made available by senior medical allowance beneficiaries has varying operation standards depending on the local government, measures to enhance the equity of health checkups must be undertaken.
Finally, based on efforts to meticulously identify demands to prevent blindspots in terms of senior health support, the government should develop necessary services. The demand for long-term care service needs to be identified for those who have are eligible for long-term care insurance but do not use the service. The demand for care service needs to be identified for those who have are eligible for long-term care insurance but do not use the service, as well as for senior citizens who are not eligible for the services provided under long term care insurance yet do not or are unable to enjoy the benefits of Comprehensive Long-Term Senior Care Service.