Human Rights Series 2nd: Medical Care for Non-Registered Foreign Workers
최종 수정일: 5월 26일
May 11th, 2023
by Sung Jae Ahn
Unregistered migrant workers are known to be key contributors to the Jeju industry. The cheap wages and the easy hiring process benefit the unfavored sectors of agriculture, fishing, and other 3D industries on the Island. According to a research report published in December 2018, conducted by the Korean Immigration Association, the recruitment rate of foreign workers in rural areas of Jeju Island was 26%, of which 9.6% were registered foreigners and 16.2% were unregistered foreigners. The proportion of unregistered foreigners in Jeju is 60%, double the national average of 30%.
It is very likely that the unstable status of non-registered foreign workers not only endangers the working environment of the Jeju community but also serves as a representative risk factor that shakes the foundation of the entire Jeju industry. Improving their status of residence and working conditions should not be addressed by simply invading the Jeju labor market or increasing the cost of the Jeju industry, but rather through stabilizing their status will help to strengthen Jeju industry.
Around mid-February, 2020, an unregistered foreign worker’s arm and face were seriously injured while working on a farm. The farmer took him to the hospital and did his best to treat him. The problem was that the hospital claimed nearly 10 million won in medical expenses, including CT tests, arm cast expenses, and hospitalization fees, just because of his identity as an unregistered migrant worker. Not long ago, the hospital had charged excessive medical expenses for unregistered foreigners, causing friction with migrant support groups. ("10 million won for appendicitis surgery..."... "Tears of an Unregistered Worker Born in 1995", Jeju Today 2019.12.20). The rate of medical tourists was applied at a rate of 2.5 times the insurance benefits and 1.5 times the non-insured benefits just because he was an unregistered foreigner. In other words, he had to pay nearly 4 million won for treatment.
Unfortunately, non-registered foreign workers are not eligible for the Korean National Health Insurance system under the current law system of South Korea, meaning they must pay for medical treatment out of pocket. It can be prohibitively costly, leaving these individuals without adequate healthcare.
To address this critical issue and problem, the Jeju Migrant Center affiliated with Jeju Foreigner Peace Community has been in collaboration with the Jubilee Medical Mutual Aid Association since April 2021. It allows foreign residents who are not covered by health insurance to receive medical treatment by paying a certain amount of monthly membership fee. Members can receive benefits such as insurance coverage, drug discounts, and support for emergency medical expenses.
The Jubilee Medical Mutual Aid Association is a mutual aid-type medical insurance system operated by private organizations. To join the Medical Mutual Aid Association, you must submit a membership application form, a confirmation of employment, a passport, and a personal information agreement in addition to the membership fee.
In the case of unregistered foreign workers who have paid the Jubilee membership fee, only 50% of the hospitalization fee and 50% of the outpatient treatment fee are required. 50% may be higher than the national health insurance subscribers who pay 30% to 60% of outpatient medical expenses and 20% of hospitalization fees. However, it is still much better than when the unregistered foreign workers had to pay 100% of medical expenses themselves.
You can only receive the benefits of the Medical Mutual Aid Association through partner hospitals in the region. The medical mutual aid cooperative hospitals in the Jeju province are Jeju National University Hospital, Joongang Hospital, Korea Hospital, and Seogwipo Medical Center as of Jan. 2023.
For more information about subscribing to mutual aid and applying for cooperative hospitals, you can contact the Jeju Migrant Center (Tel: 064-751-1141) or visit the link below.
Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Foreign Worker Support Center (jejumwc.kr)