SEOUL, March 20 (Korea Bizwire) — With the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak in Korea, the number of individuals visiting hospitals has dropped sharply.
The Korean Hospital Association surveyed 98 hospitals nationwide and identified trends related to inpatients and outpatients.
As a result, the number of hospitalized patients dropped by an average of 3.7 percent and 3.5 percent year-on-year in January and February, respectively, in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Under these aggravated circumstances, the number of inpatients dropped 26.4 percent on average this month.
The decrease in patients was greater at smaller hospitals.
Over this period, the rate of decrease in patients at superior general hospitals, including major university hospitals, was 16.7 percent, but general hospitals and small hospitals saw drops of 27 percent and 34.2 percent, respectively.
The number of outpatients decreased even more significantly. The number of outpatients as of this month fell 26.1 percent compared to the same month last year.
General hospitals saw a fall of 23.3 percent, compared to 46.7 percent at small hospitals.
The association, in response, called on the government to expand the scope of the “prepayment of medical care benefit costs,” saying it is feared that the medical system will collapse due to a sharp drop in patient numbers.
Medical care benefits costs refers to the medical expenses paid by the National Health Insurance Service to a medical institution when the medical institution treats a patient and claims the medical expenses.
The government will start with medical institutions in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, and expand the scope of pre-payment of medical care benefits to medical institutions nationwide.
H. M. Kang (email@example.com)