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  • P-ISSN 1738-656X

한국개발연구. Vol. 30, No. 2, December 2008, pp. 99-128

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Effects of Private Insurance on Medical Expenditure

Hee Suk Yun

Author & Article History

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Nearly all Koreans are insured through National Health Insurance(NHI). While NHI coverage is nearly universal, it is not complete. Coverage is largely limited to minimal level of hospital and physician expenses, and copayments are required in each case. As a result, Korea's public insurance system covers roughly 50% of overall individual health expenditures, and the remaining 50% consists of copayments for basic services, spending on services that are either not covered or poorly covered by the public system. In response to these gaps in the public system, 64% of the Korean population has supplemental private health insurance. Expansion of private health insurance raises negative externality issue. Like public financing schemes in other countries, the Korean system imposes cost-sharing on patients as a strategy for controlling utilization. Because most insurance policies reimburse patients for their out-of-pocket payments, supplemental insurance is likely to negate the impact of the policy, raising both total and public sector health spending. So far, most empirical analysis of supplemental health insurance to date has focused on the US Medigap programme. It is found that those with supplements apparently consume more health care. Two reasons for higher health care consumption by those with supplements suggest themselves. One is the moral hazard effect: by eliminating copayments and deductibles, supplements reduce the marginal price of care and induce additional consumption. The other explanation is that supplements are purchased by those who anticipate high health expenditures - adverse effect. The main issue addressed has been the separation of the moral hazard effect from the adverse selection one. The general conclusion is that the evidence on adverse selection based on observable variables is mixed. This article investigates the extent to which private supplementary insurance affect use of health care services by public health insurance enrollees, using Korean administrative data and private supplements related data collected through all relevant private insurance companies. I applied a multivariate two-part model to analyze the effects of various types of supplements on the likelihood and level of public health insurance spending and estimated marginal effects of supplements. Separate models were estimated for inpatients and outpatients in public insurance spending. The first part of the model estimated the likelihood of positive spending using probit regression, and the second part estimated the log of spending for those with positive spending. Use of a detailed information of individuals' public health insurance from administration data and of private insurance status from insurance companies made it possible to control for health status, the types of supplemental insurance owned by theses individuals, and other factors that explain spending variations across supplemental insurance categories in isolating the effects of supplemental insurance. Data from 2004 to 2006 were used, and this study found that private insurance increased the probability of a physician visit by less than 1 percent and a hospital admission by about 1 percent. However, supplemental insurance was not found to be associated with a bigger health care service utilization. Two-part models of health care utilization and expenditures showed that those without supplemental insurance had higher inpatient and outpatient expenditures than those with supplements, even after controlling for observable differences.


보충형 민간보험(Supplemental private health insurance), 도덕적 해이(Moral hazard), 역선택(Adverse selection), 의료접근성(Health service accessibility)

JEL Code

I10, I11, I18

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