SEOUL, Jan. 31 (Yonhap) -- The government is considering raising the tax on liquor to compensate for the losses in national health insurance premiums to be incurred by an imminent revision to the health care system, an official from the Ministry of Health and Welfare said Tuesday.
The ministry earlier this month announced plans to revise the country's national health care system to lower the fees paid by low-income earners.
The idea is to levy higher taxes on liquor to discourage heavy drinking, which can be hazardous to health.
The government increased the taxes on cigarettes by 2,000 won (US$1.7) per pack from Jan. 1, 2015, raising the price to 4,500 won per pack, citing the need to discourage smoking.
The revision of the health insurance system, pending National Assembly approval in May, is expected to incur a loss of about 2.3 trillion won in annual health insurance fee revenues.
"We are currently discussing increasing taxes on cigarettes and liquor to make up for the health insurance fee losses," the official said. "However, we need to be cautious because of a controversy over whether a possible increase in liquor tax is intended to improve people's health or raise taxes."