Health care co-operatives in South Korea : an effective alternative to the health care system in the future?
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South Korea has been evaluated as having the weakest primary care system. In South Korea, the health care delivery system is concentrated too heavily in the private sector. Increased concern on keeping one’s health and reducing the burden of health care costs led community members to gather and form health care co-operatives. Currently, 19 health care co-operatives have been established through residents’ participation and even more are preparing to be incorporated. As a nonprofit organization, a health care co-operative is a voluntarily established co-operative organization that tries to solve health, medical, and life problems in communities. This report examines how these health care co-operatives work in the health care system, whether they can be effective alternatives to a future health care system in South Korea, and finally the report provides recommendations. Given the fact that the nation already has national health insurance, health care co-operatives in South Korea mainly operate several clinics by focusing more on managing chronic diseases and increasing access to care, rather than developing affordable health care insurance or lobbying in policy sectors as they do in other countries. Health care co-operatives’ motivation is to keep people healthy; hence, they put a great deal of effort into delivering primary care and helping patients deal with chronic diseases. Health care co-operatives are encouraging because of their democratic structure. Health care co-operatives emphasize the idea that the owners of the health care co-operatives are in fact the members. The overall satisfaction of users in the current health care cooperatives is moderately high. Taking the lessons from the examples of health co-operatives in other countries, health care co-operatives should be able to function as a good complementary to the health care system.
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