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Asia Pac J Public Health. 2012 Sep;24(5):872-9. doi: 10.1177/1010539512462500.

Ethical assessment of national health insurance system of Korea.


The current adverse effects of the health insurance system in Korea are considered to be problems that arise from an insufficient reflection of the notion of respecting human rights. The ethical principles most commonly suggested and used in public health are the 4 principles suggested by Beauchamp and Childress in 1994. From the perspective of the community, these 4 principles of medical ethics can be expanded to resolve problems surrounding existing social systems from a socialistic standpoint. This article describes a flexible, easy-to-use model for incorporating the 4 medical ethics principles into the National Health Insurance System (NHIS). First, the principle of respect for autonomy involves respecting the decision-making capacities of autonomous medical consumers and providers and enabling individuals to make reasoned and informed choices. Second is the principle of good practice. The government and medical institutions should act in a way that benefits the health care consumers. The principle of prohibiting bad practice involves avoiding causing health problems. The National Health Insurance Corporation and health care providers should not harm the health care consumers. Finally, the principle of justice is concerned with distributing benefits, risks, and costs fairly-that is, the notion that patients in similar positions should be treated in a similar manner. If these problems are solved, health system quality could be better and more accessible and sustainable. The ethical assessment of the NHIS could be a trial to match the 4 medical ethics principles and the NHIS. It can be applied internationally to relevant policy makers in different settings.

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