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Lessons from health insurance responses in counteracting COVID-19: a qualitative comparative analysis of South Korea and three influential countries

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Ko, Hey Jin; Yun, Eunji; Ahn, Boryung; Lee, Hyejin; Jang, Won Mo; Lee, Jin Yong

Issue Date
Archives of Public Health, Vol.81(1):205
PandemicCOVID-19Health insuranceSurge capacity
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays and restrictions in providing medical services. In response to the medical surge, countries with social insurance systems provided financial incentives to medical institutions. This study aimed to present the directions for health insurance support by comparing countries in terms of the domains and contents of COVID-19 health insurance support to ensure timely support in case of future pandemics.

An analysis framework was developed to compare health insurance policy interventions for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 domains, and detailed policy interventions were divided into sub-domains (space, staff, and stuff) for each domain. Data were collected by country from the websites of the Ministry of Health and Social Insurers, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and were analyzed using qualitative comparative analysis.

The countries provided comprehensive support for both the COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 domains. In the COVID-19 domain, overall support was provided in all three sub-domains. Additional cost support was provided to prevent infection and provide secure facilities to treat confirmed patients. Outpatient services were mainly supported, and an intensive intervention was developed in the staff sub-domain for the non-COVID-19 domain. The point of policy intervention was the surge of the first confirmed case. Continuous revisions were subsequently made. The government provided financial support through health insurance.

Regarding where policy support through health insurance should be focused, the workload of medical personnel increased according to the change in the service provision environment due to the pandemic, and the medical service delivery system changed to prevent further infection. Consequently, incentives should be provided to aid the provision of stable services to patients and should be an auxiliary means to implement the national quarantine policy more effectively via a health insurance response system that promptly provides additional financial support in case of future crises.
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