South Korea: Service Quality

In South Korea, the establishment of the National Health Insurance Service in conjunction with rapid economic development has increased access to services and improved health outcomes over the last few decades. However, there is evidence of high rates of overutilization of hospital services attributable to the absence of weekend access to PHC. In October 2013, South Korea instituted a program that pays General Practitioners (GPs) 30% beyond their normal compensation to provide care on Saturdays. This incentive proved sufficient to encourage GPs to work on Saturdays, improving patient access and reducing the volume of patients on other days of the week.1 Increased access on Saturdays also likely decreased utilization of emergency rooms for conditions treatable in primary care settings, though the evaluation was unable to measure this impact.   


  1. Ha HJ, Han K-T, Kim SJ, Sohn TY, Jeon B, Park E-C, et al. Changes in Saturday outpatient volume and billings after introducing the Saturday incentive programme to clinics in South Korea: a longitudinal cohort study using claims data from 2012 to 2014. BMJ Open. 2016;6(6):e011248.