Korean J Prev Med.  1989 Sep;22(3):398-405.

Economic Benefits of Implementing National Health Insurance by Measurement of Changes in the Consumer's Surplus

  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Yonsei University, College of Medicine, Korea.


A change in the consumer's surplus was measured in order to evaluate the social benefit to be derived from expanding health insurance to the entire population. The most refined and correct way to measure a project's net benefit to society is to determine a change in the consumer's surplus. Benefits from introducing the health insurance program to the uninsured people can be classified into two elements. The first is the pricing-down effect(E1) which results from applying the insurance price system, which is lower than the actual price, to the uninsured patients. The second effect(E2) is a decrease in actual payment because an insured patient pays only a portion of the total medical bill(copayment). We collected medical price information from the data banks of 93 hospitals, and obtained information of medical utilization by referring to the results of other research and from data published by the Korean Medical Insurance Societies. The total net benefit was estimated as won214 billion, comprising the first effect(E1) of won57 billion and the second effect(E2) of won157 billion. The price elasticity of physician visits is less than that of hospital admissions; however, benefits from the increase in physician visits are greater than those from hospital admissions because there are considerably more of physician visits than hospital admissions. The sensitivity analysis also shows the conclusion that expansion of the health insurance program to the entire population would result in a positive net benefit. Therefore, we conclude that the National Health Insurance Program is socially desirable.


Health Insrance; Social Benefit; Consumer's Surplus

MeSH Terms

Insurance, Health
Medically Uninsured
National Health Programs*
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