SEOUL, Aug. 31 (Korea Bizwire) – A counselling office will be established for foreign patients to receive support in medical disputes such as medical malpractice and overcharging.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced that the government will run a medical dispute counseling office for foreign patients, as part of its plan to attract 300,000 foreign patients in 2015.
The office will go through a pilot program this year, and is expected to provide foreigners with counselling and interpretation services in five languages in cases of medical disputes such as buying insurance, providing medical information during the treatment process, mediating disputes, and supporting legal action.
An official at the ministry said, “The office will support foreign patients in every aspect of medical disputes. We decided to set up the office as there has been criticism about the lack of support for foreign patients in cases of medical disputes.”
Under the plan, the government will make it compulsory for medical institutes treating foreign patients to explain medical transcription and side effects to patients, and to buy insurance to cover the cost of medical disputes.
Meanwhile, the Korean government has decided to refund 10 percent of value-added taxes to foreign patients who have cosmetic surgery in Korea from next April to March, 2017.
In addition, the health ministry will stop illegal brokerage activities in medical circles by charging additional taxes, while offering rewards to those who report such deals. With the measure, the ministry will root out illegal brokers to attract patients and improve the brand image of Korean medical institutions.
To boost medical tourism, the ministry will support the development of medical check-up products for foreign tourists, such as medical check-ups without fasting. Also, it will dispel the bad image of the Korean medical environment by improving issues identified during the recent Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak.
According to the health ministry, the number of foreign patients treated in Korea since 2009 surpassed one million in the first half of this year, while revenues from patients exceeded 1.5 trillion won as of 2014.
By John Choi (firstname.lastname@example.org)