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'Disaster income' hinges on health insurance payments

An official from the interior ministry in Sejong City explains Friday how recipients of emergency relief fund will be selected. Yonhap
An official from the interior ministry in Sejong City explains Friday how recipients of emergency relief fund will be selected. Yonhap

By Kim Se-jeong

The government announced more details about its emergency relief fund to support citizens suffering financially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Friday, saying it will select recipients based on the previous month's national health insurance contributions.

On Monday, President Moon Jae-in promised cash payments in "disaster income" to all households except for the top 30 percent income bracket.

According to the government, a single person who pays up to 88,334 won in their monthly national health insurance subscription will be eligible to receive 400,000 won. A two-person household must pay up to 150,025 won to receive 600,000 won; for a three-person household the figures are 195,200 won and 800,000 won; while a four-member household must pay 237,652 won to receive 1 million won. These numbers are applied to salaried workers.

To receive the same amounts, those who are self-employed or regional subscribers have a different set of criteria for eligibility: a one-person household must pay up to 63,778 won; two persons, 147,928 won; three persons, 203,127 won; and four persons, 254,909 won.

More than one method is available to calculate a person's assets and there has been a big debate on which method the government should use to determine the people most in need.

"We chose to take the medical insurance subscriptions as a reference because they're the most updated data and readily available," a government official said. The administration will screen the selected recipients again later so that it can filter out wealthier people, he added.

The emergency relief fund is expected to cost the central government 9.1 trillion won and to benefit almost 14 million households nationwide.

The administration will fund the project by issuing bonds and with the help of local governments ― it has ordered them to provide 20 percent of the total. However, not all local governments have agreed to comply, and this could potentially delay implementation.

The government also said it still need to work out some details before presenting the proposal to the National Assembly for approval. As such, some local news outlets are reporting that payments won't be made until May.

Asked about the eligibility of non-Koreans, a health ministry official only said more details will be available soon. Korea has almost two million foreign nationals staying in the country long term. On Monday, one foreigner filed a petition on Cheong Wa Dae's website demanding that all foreigners who work and pay taxes in Korea should be able to receive the relief funds.


Those who want to check their monthly medical insurance payment can visit
https://www.nhis.or.kr/index.jsp or call 1577-1000.

Friday's announcement came 74 days after the first COVID-19 infection was reported. On the same day, Korea saw its total number of cases surpassing 10,000.




An official from the interior ministry in Sejong City explains Friday how recipients of emergency relief fund will be selected. Yonhap
An official from the interior ministry in Sejong City explains Friday how recipients of emergency relief fund will be selected. Yonhap

By Kim Se-jeong

The government announced more details about its emergency relief fund to support citizens suffering financially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Friday, saying it will select recipients based on the previous month's national health insurance contributions.

On Monday, President Moon Jae-in promised cash payments in "disaster income" to all households except for the top 30 percent income bracket.

According to the government, a single person who pays up to 88,334 won in their monthly national health insurance subscription will be eligible to receive 400,000 won. A two-person household must pay up to 150,025 won to receive 600,000 won; for a three-person household the figures are 195,200 won and 800,000 won; while a four-member household must pay 237,652 won to receive 1 million won. These numbers are applied to salaried workers.

To receive the same amounts, those who are self-employed or regional subscribers have a different set of criteria for eligibility: a one-person household must pay up to 63,778 won; two persons, 147,928 won; three persons, 203,127 won; and four persons, 254,909 won.

More than one method is available to calculate a person's assets and there has been a big debate on which method the government should use to determine the people most in need.

"We chose to take the medical insurance subscriptions as a reference because they're the most updated data and readily available," a government official said. The administration will screen the selected recipients again later so that it can filter out wealthier people, he added.

The emergency relief fund is expected to cost the central government 9.1 trillion won and to benefit almost 14 million households nationwide.

The administration will fund the project by issuing bonds and with the help of local governments ― it has ordered them to provide 20 percent of the total. However, not all local governments have agreed to comply, and this could potentially delay implementation.

The government also said it still need to work out some details before presenting the proposal to the National Assembly for approval. As such, some local news outlets are reporting that payments won't be made until May.

Asked about the eligibility of non-Koreans, a health ministry official only said more details will be available soon. Korea has almost two million foreign nationals staying in the country long term. On Monday, one foreigner filed a petition on Cheong Wa Dae's website demanding that all foreigners who work and pay taxes in Korea should be able to receive the relief funds.


Those who want to check their monthly medical insurance payment can visit
https://www.nhis.or.kr/index.jsp or call 1577-1000.

Friday's announcement came 74 days after the first COVID-19 infection was reported. On the same day, Korea saw its total number of cases surpassing 10,000.




Kim Se-jeong skim@koreatimes.co.kr

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