Survey results of medical insurance reimbursement system for independent medical laboratories in Korea

Sook Young Bae, Jung Ah Kwon, Jang Su Kim, Soo Young Yoon, Chang Kyu Lee, Kap No Lee, Dae Won Kim, Won Ki Min, Young Joo Cha, Seok Lae Chae, Yoo Sung Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: A questionnaire survey was performed to perceive the problem of the current medical insurance reimbursement system for laboratory tests referred to independent medical laboratories; then, we intended to find a way to improve the reimbursement system. METHODS: Questionnaires were distributed to 220 independent medical laboratories and 700 laboratory physicians from July through October 2005. Frequency analysis was used to analyse the replies from 109 respondents to 25 questionnaire items regarding the current medical insurance reimbursement system for referral tests, problems with the system, and suggestions for the improvement of the system. RESULTS: Among the 109 respondents to this survey, 49 (45.8%) considered the current reimbursement system to be unsatisfactory, while only 16 (15.0%) answered satisfactory. The problem was that the referral clinics-not the laboratories that performed the tests--would first receive their reimbursement for the laboratory tests from Health Insurance Review Agency (HIRA) and then give a portion of the laboratory test fees to the independent medical laboratories after the deduction of administrative fees. They (62.5% of the respondents) would prefer a separated reimbursement system by which the referral clinic-as well as the independent medical laboratory-would receive their reimbursement directly from HIRA through an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system. In this new system, 34% of the respondents expected the quality of the laboratory tests to be improved; however, 41.6% answered that the income of the referral clinic is expected to decrease. CONCLUSIONS: For the improvement of the medical insurance reimbursement system, the administrative fee for the referral clinic and the test fee for the independent medical laboratory should be reimbursed directly to the respective organizations. These changes could be made possible with the proper analysis of medical costs and the development of an effective EDI reimbursement system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
JournalThe Korean journal of laboratory medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Apr

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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