Health insurer unlikely to win proposed tobacco damages suit in Korea

| November 22, 2013

Questions have been raised about what a proposed damage suit filed by Korea’s National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) against cigarette companies would accomplish, according to a story in The Korea Times.

The state-run NHIS has claimed since August that tobacco manufacturers operating in Korea are responsible for the medical costs of patients suffering from smoking-related diseases.

The amount of damages requested in the suit is expected to be up to WON1 trillion, but some experts believe the NHIS would have little chance of winning, given how similar cases have fared around the world.

And they say that any money tobacco companies were forced to pay out would result ultimately in an increase in cigarette prices, putting an additional financial burden on smokers.

One suggestion made is that the NHIS should use the fees it collects from the sales of cigarettes exclusively for smokers, instead of for patients in general.

The amount collected was WON1.54 trillion in 2010, close to the NHIS’s estimate of medical costs related to smoking in 2011: WON1.69 trillion.

Category: Breaking News

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