April 18, 2019 12:27
A 17-year effort to open Korea's first for-profit hospital on Jeju Island has ended in failure after the operator failed to open on time.
The Jeju provincial government said Wednesday that it has canceled the license of Greenland International Hospital, which was granted on Dec. 5, 2018 with a proviso to open within 90 days, because the operator failed to meet the deadline.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said it will no longer license for-profit hospitals.
Greenland had been seeking authorization to accept both foreign and Korean patients, but the local government insisted that it can treat only foreigners. The hospital filed a lawsuit in February seeking to nullify the restriction and called for an extension to the deadline. Greenland claimed that Jeju provincial government officials "unexpectedly" decided to exclude Korean patients.
Some activists oppose the establishment of for-profit hospitals for fear of skyrocketing medical costs if more and more such hospitals open and lure patents with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.
President Moon Jae-in vowed in his election campaign to block for-profit hospitals that "trigger skyrocketing medical bills." The government also argues that such hospitals would hinder efforts to deal quickly with any epidemics or other emergencies.
But medical industry insiders say for-profit hospitals are at any rate unlikely to become lucrative soon since the government provides universal coverage, so most Korean patients would see no reason to use them.
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