SEOUL, April 9 (Korea Bizwire) — A growing number of South Korean hospitals are reporting financial difficulties as their outpatient numbers have dropped significantly due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to a survey of 62 hospitals conducted by the Korean Medical Association (KMA) the number of outpatients dropped by an average of 16.3 percent (44.5 patients) in February and 33.8 percent (88.9 patients) in March.
Inpatient numbers also fell 8.2 percent (2.9 patients) in February and 24.8 percent (8.5 patients) in March.
Revenues also declined as the number of patients decreased. According to the survey results, average monthly revenue fell 8.4 percent (83.9 million won, US$69,150) in February, and 32.5 percent (443 million won) in March.
On the other hand, the hospitals’ expenses have increased as more doctors and nurses have been hired to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The average increase in expenses at eight hospitals that have expanded their workforce reached up to 37 million won.
In addition to hiring more workers, the total additional costs incurred by purchasing masks and hand sanitizer and installing screening clinics averaged 22.02 million won at 58 locations.
The KMA argued that the government should support hospitals suffering from financial difficulties.
“Small and medium-sized hospitals should not be excluded from the government’s 100 trillion won emergency fund for corporate relief,” the KMA said, adding that local and national tax cuts for small and medium-sized hospitals are also needed.
D. M. Park (firstname.lastname@example.org)