Health Policy Manag.  2021 Mar;31(1):140-144. 10.4332/KJHPA.2021.31.1.140.

Catastrophic Health Expenditure and Trend of South Korea in 2019

  • 1Department of Public Health, Yonsei University Graduate School, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Institute of Health Services Research, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Department of Preventive Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea


Catastrophic health expenditure refers to measure the level of the economic burden of households due to medical expenses. The purpose of this study was to examine the proportion of households that experienced catastrophic health expenditure between 2006 and 2019 using available data from the National Survey of Tax and Benefit (NaSTaB), Korea Health Panel (KHP), and Households Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES). Trend test was used to analyze the proportion of households with catastrophic healthcare expenditure. The households experienced a catastrophic health expenditure of 2.44% in 2019 using the NaSTaB data. Trend analysis was significant with the decreasing trend (annual percentage change [APC], -4.49; p<0.0001) in the proportion of households with catastrophic health expenditure. Also, the results of the 2017 KHP and the 2016 HIES showed 2.20% and 2.92%. The trend was significantly increased in the KHP (APC, 1.79; p<0.0001) and the HIES (APC, 1.43; p<0.0001). Therefore, this study suggests that further public healthcare interventions to alleviate the burden of catastrophic health expenditure, especially for low-income households, are needed.


Catastrophic health expenditure; Trend; Income; Health expenditures
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