Korea’s state-run National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) is considering filing lawsuits against cigarette companies to seek compensation for rising health care costs from smoking-related illnesses, according to a story in The Korea Herald.
NHIS’ president Kim Jong-dae, said that tobacco companies should no longer be free of responsibility for smoking-related diseases that cost massive amounts of money to treat every year.
He was not quoted as having explained why he thought this was the case but he did say the NHIS would hold a forum with lawyers next week to study how much the treatment of tobacco-related illnesses costs its fund and to check whether tobacco litigation would be valid.
This would be the first time that a Korean public body had sued local and foreign tobacco companies over health care costs.
In 2011, the NHIS was said to have spent WON1.56 trillion on treating smoking-related diseases.
The Herald story quoted unnamed legal experts as saying litigation could involve trillions of won because the NHIS could claim for recovery of their tobacco-related health care costs for the past 10 years.