English III

Public Health and Welfare


The introduction of modern medical science that paralleled economic growth was connected to a national interest in health that subsequently led to an increase in life expectancy. Life expectancy in Korea, as a result of an abundance of well- trained medical personnel, high-tech equipped medical facilities, and a systemically maintained health screening system, is shown to be very high compared with the rest of the world. Above all, the introduction of a universal health insurance

system allows all citizens to enjoy health insur- ance bene ts. However, there are problems, such as increased medical expenses due to an aging population and a healthspan (the number of years that one lives in good health) that is shorter than the increasing life expectancy—in other words, people are living longer, but they are spending a greater percentage of their lives not in good health, as are also seen in many other countries. In addition, there are also a rising number of health

problems that need solutions, such as new types of diseases, differences between metropolitan and rural areas in health care access, and lifestyle changes.

The issue of welfare is widely debated in Korean society. The discussion of welfare and social consensus on its expenditure centers on how to cope with the emergence of an at-risk group in Korea’s population that was left behind in socioeconomic development as a result of

the intensification of a competitive society that constantly seeks a higher quality of life and eco- nomic growth. Government expenditure has been steadily increasing, and various types of welfare policies by age, gender, and social class have also increased. But the increase in welfare expenditure is a nancial burden; the slowdown in economic growth, the rapidly aging population, and the de- cline in birth rate have become urgent problems that need to be solved.