Research in Brief

Covid-19 and Health Care Utilization

  • Author

    Shin, Jeongwoo, Moon, Seok-Jun, Jung, So-Hue

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The Ministry of Health and Welfare earlier this year reported that, citing findings of the 2020 Health Care Experience Survey, health care utilization rates declined after the covid-19 outbreak. Conducted between July and October 2020 face-to-face with a total of 6,000 households sampled across the country, the survey found that in the period between July 2019 and June 2020, the proportion of people who had visited hospitals or clinics seeking health care services declined year-on-year, to 60.8 percent for outpatient care and to 3.5 percent for inpatient care.
More than a year after the first covid-19 case was reported in Korea on January 20 last year, the pandemic remains unabated, with the number of new cases falling and rising repeatedly. Covid-19 has reshaped Korea’s social landscape. The pandemic also affected the way Koreans use health care, as is shown by recent statistical data and perception surveys. According to the Health Insurance and Assessment Service (HIRA), the use of health care services decreased significantly year-on-year in the first half of 2020, with the number of reimbursement claims declining by 13.3 percent and the number of outpatient visits by 12.5 percent. Another survey, conducted by the National Health Insurance Service, found that during the same period the number of inpatient days declined by 4.5 percent year-on-year and the number of outpatient visit days by 15.2 percent year-on-year. Also, Covid-19 Perception Survey by Hankook Research (3rd ~ 22nd) revealed that more than 50 percent of respondents on average reported having put off or called off a hospital visit.
This brief uses data from the Health Care Experience Survey to examine changes that covid-19 effected in the use of health care services. A total of 12,507 people participated in the Health Care Experience Survey in 2019. In the 2020 survey, 12,133 people participated. The two groups had similar sociodemographic characteristics. In this brief, an individual was considered having used health care if he or she had used outpatient or inpatient services at least once during the first half of either 2019 or 2020. The figures presented in this brief may therefore differ from the figures presented in earlier reports on the Health Care Experience Survey.


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