J Korean Acad Fam Med.  2001 Apr;22(4):483-497.

Assessment of primary care level in Korea and comparison with the developed countries

  • 1Medical Service, 3629th Unit, the Republic of Korea Air Force.


Due to the limited medical resources, effectiveness, efficiency, and equity has become the main issue of health care system reform in the developed countries, which has lead to the focusing on strengthening of primary care. The study was performed to assess the primary care level and health indicators in Korea utilizing objective criteria used in other developed countries, so as to evaluate its current status compared to the developed countries.
Starfield's primary care scoring criteria of the system and practice characteristics was used to evaluate the primary care level in Korea and 13 members of the OECD countries. According to the primary care score, the countries were grouped in to 3 groups(highest, middle, lowest) and were compared the health indicators, health care expenditure, and satisfaction with health care system.
Korea ranked the lowest in both primary care level and health indicators. The amount of health care expenditure and satisfaction with health care system were also low. Health indicators were worst in the lowest primary score group. But unexpectedly, middle group had better health indicators than highest group in most items.
Primary care level in Korea is very low compared to the developed countries. Middle primary care level countries having better health indicators may be due to the overemphasis of efficiency and equal distribution in highest level countries leading to low quality service. Korea should consider modelling the middle group countries in the course of establishing primary care system with equal balancing in quantity and quality.


primary care level; primary care score; health indicators; developed countries SS

MeSH Terms

Delivery of Health Care
Developed Countries*
Health Expenditures
Primary Health Care*
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