, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 709–721 | Cite as

Introducing economic evaluation as a policy tool in Korea: Will decision makers get quality information?

A critical review of published Korean economic evaluations
  • Kun-Sei Lee
  • Werner B. F. Brouwer
  • Sang-Il Lee
  • Hye-Won Koo
Review Article


Interest in the use of economic evaluations in Korea as an aid for healthcare decision makers has been growing rapidly since the financial crisis of the Korean National Health Insurance fund and the separation in 2000 of the roles of prescribing and dispensing drugs. The Korean Health Insurance Review Agency (HIRA) is considering making it mandatory for pharmaceutical companies to submit the results of an economic evaluation when demanding reimbursement of new pharmaceuticals. The usefulness of the results of economic evaluations depends highly on the quality of the studies. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to provide a critical review of economic evaluations of healthcare technologies published in the Korean context.

Our results show that many studies did not meet international standards. Study designs were suboptimal, study perspectives and types were often stated incompletely, time periods were often too short, and outcome measures were often less than ideal. In addition, some articles did not distinguish between measurement and valuation of resource use. Capital, overhead and productivity costs were often omitted. Only half of the studies performed sensitivity analyses.

In order to further rationalise resource allocation in the Korean healthcare sector, the quality of the information provided through economic evaluations needs to improve. Developing clear guidelines and educating and training researchers in performing economic evaluations is necessary.


Economic Evaluation Informal Care Cost Category Direct Healthcare Cost National Health Insurance System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This paper was written during K.S. Lee’s stay at the Department of Health Policy and Management and Institute for Medical Technology Assessment of the Erasmus University Rotterdam as a visiting professor. This work is supported by the Post-doctoral Fellowship Program of Korea Science and Engineering Foundation (KOSEF). The comments of Frans Rutten and two anonymous reviewers on an earlier draft of this paper are gratefully acknowledged. The authors have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kun-Sei Lee
    • 1
    • 2
  • Werner B. F. Brouwer
    • 1
  • Sang-Il Lee
    • 3
  • Hye-Won Koo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Health Policy and Management and Institute for Medical Technology AssessmentErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Preventive MedicineKonkuk University Chungju CampusChungju-si, Chungbuk-doThe Republic of Korea
  3. 3.Department of Preventive Medicine, College of MedicineUniversity of UlsanThe Republic of Korea

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