21 More Rare Diseases Get Free Coverage

Courtesy by: koreatimes.co.kr

The government is set to expand its support for patients suffering from rare diseases, the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs announced Monday.

The ministry said 21 more diseases will be added to its list of those covered by free medical care.

Beneficiaries will be patients whose family’s income is less than 4 million won per month, with their assets amounting to less than 200 million won.

One such affliction is thalassemia, an autosomal recessive blood disease that results in severe cases of anemia.

The patients usually need to receive blood transfusions and iron chelation therapy among other treatments, which can sometimes be risky, experts say.

The disease most often inflicts people in the Mediterranean region and parts of northern Africa, but in Korea, their number is estimated to be around a few hundred.

Other rare diseases included on the list are Kufs’ Disease, Nieman-Pick Disease and Krabbe Disease.

The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the new coverage will benefit some 7,000 people.

Currently, the National Health Insurance Corp. supports 28,900 patients suffering from 111 rare and hard-to-treat diseases.

“The government will cover not only expenses for treatment but provide them with pieces of medical equipment that are essential for walking, breathing and other aids to help them conduct their daily activities. Those with muscle disorders will also receive care by visiting nurses free of charge,” center official Ku Soo-kyeong said.

More information about rare diseases and governmental support for them is available at http://helpline.cdc.go.kr.

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