Health Policy Manag.  2022 Mar;32(1):107-112. 10.4332/KJHPA.2022.32.1.107.

Catastrophic Health Expenditure and Trend of South Korea in 2020

  • 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 healthcare expenditure refers to out-of-pocket spending for healthcare exceeding a certain proportion of a household’s income and can lead to subsequent impoverishment. The aim of this study was to investigate the proportion of South Korean households that experienced catastrophic healthcare expenditure between 2006 and 2020 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 household with catastrophic healthcare expenditure. In the NaSTaB 2020 data, households who experienced catastrophic health expenditure was 1.73%. Trend analysis was significant with the decreasing trend (annual percentage change [APC], -5.55; p<0.0001) in the proportion of households with the catastrophic health expenditure. Also, in the 2018 KHP and the 2016 HIES, households who experienced catastrophic health expenditure was 2.21% and 2.92% respectively. In contrast, the trend was significantly increased in the KHP (APC, 0.55; p<0.0001) and the HIES (APC, 1.43; p<0.0001). Therefore, the findings suggest the need to strengthen public health care financial support and monitor catastrophic healthcare expenditures, especially for low-income group.


Catastrophic health expenditure; Trends; Income; Health expenditures
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