Where to Get a CPAP Device in Korea

When my father came to visit me for a month-long stay in South Korea, he thought he had prepared for every eventuality—until he realized he’d forgotten a vital part for his CPAP device. As someone who suffers from sleep apnea, a good night’s sleep without his CPAP was impossible. We were suddenly thrust into the confusing maze of Korea’s healthcare system, trying to find a supplier that stocked the part he needed. Fortunately, my father is a U.S. veteran and was able to find a medical supply store on Osan Air Force Base that had the CPAP part that he needed. However, not everyone in Korea has such access.

If you’ve ever found yourself scrambling to navigate healthcare or lifestyle necessities in a foreign land, you’re not alone. This blog post aims to guide you through the intricacies of securing CPAP device essentials in Korea.

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Medical Terms to Know

Before jumping into where to find CPAP supplies, learning a few terms may help you navigate your search more effectively.

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The following key CPAP-related medical terms may be helpful when inquiring about CPAP devices.

  • CPAP device/positive air pressure devices – 양압기 [yahng-ahp-ghi]
  • CPAP accessories/positive air pressure device accessories – 양압기부속품 [yahng-ahp-ghi-boo-sok-poom]
  • CPAP mask – 양압기 마스크 [yahng-aph-ghi-mah-seu-keu]
  • CPAP tube – 양압기 튜브 [yanhg-ahp-ghi tyoo-beu]
  • Hospital – 병원 [byuhng-wuhn]
  • Clinic – 의원 [eu-ee-wuhn]
  • Sleep Center – 수면센터 [soo-myuhn-sehn-tuh]
  • Sleep apnea – 수면 무호흡증 [soo-myuhn moo-ho-heub-jeung]
  • Rental – 대여 [dae-yuh]
  • Polysomnography – 수면다원검사 [soo-myuhn-dah-wuhn-guhm-sah]

Possible Challenges of Acquiring a CPAP Device

Lanuage barriers, cultural barriers, and financial barriers may pose challenges to the acquisition of a CPAP device. However, don’t let these challenges stop you from advocating for your needs. Below are some resources that may help you navigate such challenges.

Language Barrier

As many of us have experienced, language barriers can be a big challenge when accessing healthcare in a foreign country. Here are a few free tools and resources you can use to overcome the language barrier in your search for a CPAP device:

Interpretation Resources

Translator Apps

Other Options

  • Bring a trusted Korean friend or coworker to help with translation

Cultural Barrier

In addition to language barriers, you may experience cultural challenges as you go through the process of acquiring a CPAP device. Korea’s medical system may differ from your home country’s. Understanding that it may take time and extra steps to get a CPAP device in Korea may help prepare you, emotionally, for the process. The “How to Improve Your Comfort Level in South Korea” blog post has some tips about understanding and managing culture shock while living and accessing healthcare in Korea.

Similarly to the U.S., South Korea requires a prescription for the purchase of a CPAP device. This means that you may need to visit a hospital or clinic to be diagnosed with a sleep disorder in Korea, even if you already have documentation from your home country showing that you have already been diagnosed, before you can purchase a CPAP device.

Visiting a hospital/clinic in Korea can be daunting. A couple of ways that may alleviate some of the cultural stress in visiting a Korean hospital/clinic include:

  • Researching hospitals/clinics that work with the international population. Many larger hospitals in Korea, such as St. Marys Hospital in Pyeongtaek, have an international support center.
  • Asking a Korean friend to go to your appointment with you. Having a friend who can interpret not only language but cultural expectations can help prepare you for your hospital visit.

Financial Barriers

Depending on whether you are enrolled in the NHIS or if you use international insurance, CPAP device pricing may vary.

CPAP Device Access for NHIS Enrolled Individuals in Korea

If you are enrolled in NHIS, your medical visits and your CPAP device may be covered. Skip to the “Acquiring a CPAP device for Those with Korean National Health Insurance” section below for more information on how to gain access to a CPAP device using NHIS.

CPAP Device Access for Non-NHIS Enrolled Individuals in Korea

For those NOT enrolled in NHIS, you may need to pay high out-of-pocket costs for a CPAP device. Preparing yourself financially, by setting aside a savings fund for a CPAP device could help. CPAP device pricing can range anywhere from 1,000,000 KRW to 1,500,000 KRW if not covered by NHIS.

It may still be possible to rent and buy a CPAP device with accessories for lower price points. However, ability to rent will vary depending on the distributing company, and some distributing companies may require you to have NHIS.

You can refer to the NHIS list of CPAP distributors*** to find the closest clinic to you.

***Although the NHIS website allows you to switch languages, information on CPAP distribution centers is only available on the Korean version of the NHIS website. Many other Korean websites function similarly to the NHIS where their English and Korean translated sites provide different information. This can be frustrating when searching for much needed resources. However, it is common practice on sites with multiple language functions because building out websites in multiple languages is a complex process, the “other language” versions of sites often only provide the most commonly used resources.

To navigate the Korean version of the NHIS website, use the Google translate plug-in or take screenshots using Papago to find the distribution center that is nearest to you.

If navigating the Korean website using Google translate and Papago seems too stressful, you can also call the NHIS hotline and speak with a represenative on their English line to learn about what you qualify for and how to access CPAP device rentals and purchases.

NHIS Hotline

NHIS Hotline5


Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

This phone number takes you to an NHIS agent who can answer any and all questions you have about the Korean national health insurance including cost and coverage. English, Russian, Chinese and other language services are available. Note: It may be difficult for a call to go through during the lunch hour (12pm-1pm)

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

CPAP Device Access for International Insurance Enrolled Individuals in Korea

If you have international insurance, check with your insurance provider to see if a CPAP device is reimburseable under their policy. While you may still need to pay out-of-pocket cost in the interim, a reimbursement could help allievate financial challenges involved with purchasing a CPAP device outright without insurance support at all.

Acquiring a CPAP Device for Those with Korean National Health Insurance (NHIS)

The NHIS may cover CPAP rentals, devices, and accessories as seen in this NHIS policy (The policy listed for CPAP rentals is listed in Korean. You may need Google translate or Papago on hand for translation).

In order to apply your NHIS benefits to your CPAP device purchase, you must visit a Korean clinic/hospital to receive a certification diagnosing you with a sleep disorder that requires a CPAP device. The NHIS doesn’t accept diagnoses or prescriptions from outside of Korea because Korea has a specific registration process for CPAP access. Nevertheless, having an existing prescription and diagnosis to bring to a Korean clinic/hospital could provide a smoother transition.

Specialists covered by NHIS

Specialists who can help with the registration process are those who meet the eligibility criteria for conducting a polysomnography (수면다원검사). A polysomnography is a test that confirms whether you have sleep apnea or another sleep-related breathing disorder. Specialists in the following areas could potentially be eligible for conducting a polysomnography:

Please note that Family medicine, Internal medicine, and other primary care concepts are not as common in Korea and may not have a direct translation. Please utilize the Korean terms below to conduct a Naver Maps or Kakao Maps search for locations near you. Additionally, calling the medical center prior to your visit to make sure they offer polysomnographies is strongly recommended. You can use 1330 to help with translating your call.

  • Family medicine/Internal medicine – 내과 [nae-gwah]
  • Sleep Clinic – 수면과 [soo-myuhn-gwah]
  • Neurology – 신경과 [shin-gyuhng-gwa]
  • For specific clinics, please visit this website (Please note this website is in Korean and will require Google translate or Papago)

If you meet the criteria, the specialist will issue a registration application after confirming your diagnosis. Such an application or certification acts as a proof of coverage for CPAP devices and related accessories. The NHIS website provides a list of online and physical companies that distribute CPAP machines (Please note this website is in Korean and will require Google translate or Papago) For additional information on insurance coverage, read the NHIS policy (Korean website) or call the English, Chinese, and Vietnamese consultant call center at 033-811-2000 (Overseas: 82-33-811-2001).

Finding a CPAP Distributor

In addition to the NHIS list of CPAP distributors, there are a few online methods of acquiring a CPAP machine.

One option is to use online shopping apps like Coupang, GMarket, and Danawa. To make purchases on sites like Coupang, you need to have both an alien registration card (ARC) and Korean banking account (or other way to make purchases like KakaoPay or Samsung Pay). Non-Korean bank accounts and credit cards may not be accepted on some Korean online shopping sites. Please be aware that the shopping sites often have limited English functions and may be primarily in Korean.

If you have access to these online shopping apps, you can copy and paste the terminology found in the beginning of this blog (Medical Terms to Know Section) into the search bar to find CPAP devices and other accessories.

GENERAL NOTE ABOUT ONLINE SHOPPING IN KOREA: When shopping online on sites like Coupang, GMarket, etc., searching terms in English may work. However, keep in mind that the search results may be limited. Often when you search for items on Korean sites using English, the site will mainly show you overseas results that may be more expensive or take longer to deliver. Searching using Korean terminology will bring up more options for potentially cheaper price points.

CPAP Device Pricing

CPAP Device Rentals vs Purchase

One option to acquire a CPAP device can be to rent a CPAP device per month. Rather than purchasing an entire device for 1,500,000 KRW (without NHIS), renting may provide more flexibility for both those who have NHIS and don’t have NHIS. Prices may vary depending on the distributing company, brand of CPAP machine, and type of CPAP machine you get. The NHIS standard price for a device rental stands at around:

  • KRW 76,000 per month for CPAP
  • KRW 89,000 per month for an APAP
  • KRW 126,000 per month for a biPAP
  • KRW 95,000 per mask (1 mask per year)

To purchase a CPAP machine, we suggest reaching out to specific distributors for their purchase prices. You can use BBB to help with translating your call.

The NHIS may cover up to 80% of the rental device or mask purchase fee if within the standard amount listed above. If the device rental or mask purchase exceeds the standard amount, the NHIS may cover an amount equivalent to 80% of the standard amount. However, we recommend checking with the CPAP company you decide to choose for more accurate pricing.

For those who do not have NHIS, renting may still be an available option. However, CPAP distributing companies may require NHIS for rental so it is recommended you check with the specific distributing company about their requirements.

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