Magical Mystery Card

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My magical card, which was issued to "Cather," along with a somewhat explanatory note written by my doctor.

Sometimes, living in Korea is like a puzzle. I receive one piece after another, until I'm finally able to understand something.

At my 36 week appointment, my doctor gave me a "prescription." It was a form that he had signed, which he told me I should take to the bank. He explained that the bank would give me a card I could use to pay for prenatal appointments. The total value of the card is W200,000 and W40,000 can be used towards each appointment. He wrote down a few things in Korean and told me to ask a Korean friend about it.

I asked one of Matthew's co-workers, the same woman who graciously translated my birth plan. She hadn't heard of the program, but translated the form for me, then did an internet search and got back to me with what she'd found. Her understanding was that it was only good for prenatal care. As I'd assumed, it's another government-funded program to help raise the very low birth rate. Also, she told me that it would take a week after I turned in my form for the card to be issued.

I took the form to NongHyup bank where we have our accounts. The teller who always helps me placed a phone call, since no one there seemed to know anything about it. She told me I needed to go to Kookmin Bank (KB) downtown. The KB teller seemed familiar with the program and told me I needed to open an account there to have a card issued. After filling out multiple forms, she said my card would arrive in one week. Later that afternoon, she called to tell me that she forgot to have me sign a form and needed me to come back in. I took care of that two days later. My card arrived the very next day via courier.

In the meantime, I visited my pregnant Korean friend. She already had her card, even though her due date was two weeks after mine. This irritated me, because we have the same doctor AND he had given me the form at the same appointment when he'd run several (relatively) expensive, and in my opinion unnecessary, tests. I figured that he'd forgotten to give it to me when he was supposed to and cost me an extra W40,000. My friend did say that the card could be used for 15 days after giving birth. She planned to swipe her card each day at the hospital until it was used up.

I was able to use W20,000 for my 38 week appointment the week before Christmas, then had Matthew swipe the card the two days I was in the hospital, which took W80,000 off my bill (bringing the total bill to about $200). I also used it for my one-week postpartum appointment, but that was less than W3,000. It was at that last appointment that I noticed a poster on the wall. I recognized my lovely pink card and saw the date at the top: December 15, 2008. It's a brand new program, which explains why the doctor didn't give it to me earlier.


3 Responses to “Magical Mystery Card”
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Oh, the irony. Here I am in a constant argument with myself over whether or not to have a third child because the world is overpopulated, yet there are countries that will pay parents to have babies (sort of). The amusing twist is the Mirena paper.

Hi! Where can I get one of those nifty cards? What do I have to say or do?

My understanding is that the application form is now being given to women at the first prenatal appointment. If your doctor doesn't explain it, or at least give you a form, you could probably ask for the KB card or Kookmin Bank card, as they are the bank who seems to be handling all of them. Worst case scenario, you could call the number at the very bottom of the following info.

This info came from another expat mom here in Korea:

W200000 medical costs in total at W40000 per day,you can use the benefit upto 15 days post birth,the offer started on 15th December 2008.

Other Benefits:
5% off stuff bought at Lotte Dept,Lotte Mart,E-Mart,HomePlus and online at GMarket,InterPark and Auction

5% off Daycare

5% off Pharmacy and OB/GYN related costs

You can pay 2-3 months interest free installments for stuff bought at Lotte Dept,Lotte Mart,E-Mart,HomePlus and online at GMarket,InterPark and Auction

You get a rebate of:
W5000 if you use W300000 in the month
W10000 if you use W500000 in the month
W20000 if you use W1200000 in the month
W40000 if you use W2000000 in the month

Later on you get:
10% off education costs from
5% off Kindergarten costs
Discounts off Phone English lessons
10% discount off Skincare products
10% off Healthcare stuff at
10% off cord blood banking with

If you are having a dreadful time with the application etc. as I did,call the Myeongdong Headquarters-82-2-2073-7114 and ask for the English consultant(I spoke to Chung-Younsam)

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