About 4,000 U.S. dollars, that's how much it costs medical institutions in South Korea to treat each COVID-19 patient.
For those with severe symptoms, it can cost almost 11,000 dollars.
"Despite such expenses, COVID-19 medical fees haven't been a burden for Koreans because the national health insurance covers 80% of the costs, and the central government takes care of the rest."
"I had to quit my job after getting infected, so it was even more stressful. But I didn't need to worry about the direct financial costs. I was able to focus on getting treated, and I think that's why I was able to recover quickly."
Plus, there's easy access to public hospitals.
When the number of COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in the city of Daegu, public hospitals treated three quarters of the patients.
"It's national health insurance that takes care of all citizens and their health records, so this helped treat patients in a transparent way. like determining what other symptoms they may have and what medicines they take."
Not all countries were prepared for a pandemic.
In the United States, 8.5% of the population has no insurance. That's almost 28 million people.
Some Americans actually avoid medical care, even when it's serious, because they have to pay high costs out of pocket.
And even before the pandemic, the U.S. had fewer doctors and hospital beds per capita than most other developed countries.
"Doctors and nurses in the U.S. have been laid off since February because hospitals were struggling to survive. The biggest problem is that the U.S. medical system is commercialized and is run for private benefit."
Countries like Taiwan and Germany have also successfully tamed the virus using their own unique public health care systems.
South Korea merged its state insurance funds into a single nationwide insurer in 2000.
Twenty years later, the National Health Insurance Service is playing a key role in containing the pandemic in a way that's affordable.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.