J Prev Med Public Health.  2010 Sep;43(5):423-435. 10.3961/jpmph.2010.43.5.423.

The Effect of Catastrophic Health Expenditure on the Transition to Poverty and the Persistence of Poverty in South Korea

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Korea. yshin@hanyang.ac.kr

Abstract


OBJECTIVES
The low benefit coverage rate of South Korea's health security system has been continually pointed out. A low benefit coverage rate inevitably causes catastrophic health expenditure, which can be the cause of the transition to poverty and the persistence of poverty. This study was conducted to ascertain the effect of catastrophic health expenditure on the transition to poverty and the persistence of poverty in South Korea.
METHODS
To determine the degree of social mobility, this study was conducted among the 6311 households that participated in the South Korea Welfare Panel Study in both 2006 and 2008. The effect of catastrophic health expenditure on the transition to poverty and the persistence of poverty in South Korea was assessed via multiple logistic regression analysis.
RESULTS
The poverty rate in South Korea was 21.6% in 2006 and 20.0% in 2008. 25.1 - 7.3% of the households are facing catastrophic health expenditure. Catastrophic health expenditure was found to affect the transition to poverty even after adjusting for the characteristics of the household and the head of the household, at the threshold of 28% or above.
CONCLUSIONS
25.1% of the households in this study were found to be currently facing catastrophic health expenditure, and it was determined that catastrophic health expenditure is a cause of transition to poverty. This result shows that South Korea's health security system is not an effective social safety net. As such, to prevent catastrophic health expenditure and transition to poverty, the benefit coverage of South Korea's health security system needs to the strengthened.

Keyword

Catastrophic health expenditure; Health security; Poverty

MeSH Terms

Aged
Family Characteristics
Female
*Health Expenditures
Housing
Humans
Logistic Models
Male
Middle Aged
*Poverty
Republic of Korea
*Social Mobility
*Social Security
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