Hospice and Palliative Care Services in South Korea Supported by the National Health Insurance (NHI) Program

Rhee, Y. (2015) Hospice and Palliative Care Services in South Korea Supported by the National Health Insurance (NHI) Program. Health, 7, 689-695

Previous main body of research on end-life-care in South Korea has focused on developing services quality in hospital settings or service payment system in National Health Insurance Program. The delivery system of hospice and palliative care services has evolved in diverse ways but there is little research on reviewing the past history of development and whole picture of them so far. So, the aim of this study is to review the old hospice and palliative care system and also to introduce the current one supported by the National Health Insurance Program in South Korea. The palliative care or hospice services in South Korea have been available in diverse settings and provided by different organizations (i.e. catholic hospitals or charity organizations). Finally, it was set up in 2004 that the hospice team or official Palliative Care Units (PCUs) was established in hospitals, in order to meet the end-of-life care for the patients with terminal cancer under the Cancer Control Act. The current hospice and palliative care services such as pain management, bereavement services, and counselling can be reimbursed by National Health Insurance program since 2008. Nevertheless hospice and palliative care services are available to dying patients, yet the utilization rate of hospice and palliative care services or the length of stay in the palliative care unit (PCU) is still relatively short compared to other country systems. South Korea is undergoing several efforts to expand the services in PCU along with the development of quality indicators for PCU. Hospice and palliative care services are still new in the health care system and unfamiliar to the public so it requires raising awareness for medical professionals and the public as well as further research.

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