December 06, 2018 13:15
Korea's first for-profit hospital, Greenland International Hospital, will open in Jeju next year.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Jeju Governor Won Hee-ryong announced the final approval for the hospital in Seogwipo. The provincial government said the aim is to boost the local economy, reinvigorate tourism, and enhance government credibility in the eyes of foreign investors.
Approval took three years after Chinese real estate developer Greenland Group got the go-ahead from the central government in December 2015.
The three-story building sits on a 28,163 sq.m. and has 5,546 sq.m. of floor space. Starting with 47 beds, it will offer plastic surgery, dermatology, family medicine, and internal medicine from early next year. Greenland invested W77.8 billion (US$1=W1,114).
The hospital will be open to foreign medical tourists only, although no such limitation is specified in relevant laws. The current central government and ruling party oppose any further profit-making hospitals.
"For-profit hospitals could turn into investment havens for conglomerates and large general hospitals," an official with the ruling Minjoo Party said. "They would focus only on making profits by luring patients to expensive services rather than trying to treat them well."
The government is also worried that for-profit hospitals would play havoc with the health insurance system. Healthcare workers' unions and the Korean Medical Association are also opposed to for-profit hospitals.
But the healthcare industry insists that for-profit hospitals will boost its competitiveness and create jobs.
"If more for-profit hospitals open, patients will have more choices of better-quality medical services. This in turn will help to bring in more state-of-the-art medical equipment and technology," said Prof. Kim Won-shik of Konkuk University.
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