Seoul to pay for infertility treatments
SOUTH Korea will mobilise emergency measures to fight its low fertility rate such as expanding state subsidies for infertility treatments.
It will also raise the paternity leave allowances for families welcoming their second child.
South Korea has seen a continuous drop in the number of newborns.
The number in the first five months of this year dropped by 5.3 per cent from the same period last year. At this pace, this year will mark a record low.
The government aims to raise the total fertility rate from 1.24 births per woman to 1.5 by 2020. This means at least 20,000 more babies must be born next year.
In the latest moves, the subsidies for infertility treatment - which had been limited to those earning 150 per cent or less of the monthly average income - will apply to all couples from September.
By October next year, the plan is for such treatments to be covered by health insurance.
By income, those earning more than 150 per cent of the average monthly income - 5.83 million won (S$7,057) - will receive a million won per session.
Those earning 3.16 million won to 5.83 million won will get 1.9 million won for the treatment. Those earning 3.16 million won or less will collect 2.4 million won.
With the expansion, some 96,000 people are expected to benefit, compared to the current 50,000.
From July next year, those receiving infertility treatment will also be guaranteed three days of unpaid leave per year.
The measures also include wider health insurance benefits for treating premature babies born weighing less than 2.5kg from October.
The upper limit of the paternity leave allowance will be raised from the current 1.5 million won to two million won for fathers who had their second child since July this year.
Households with at least three children and working parents will be guaranteed priority admission to public childcare centres regardless of their turn in the wait list.
THE KOREA HERALD/
ASIA NEWS NETWORK