Korea’s first for-profit hospital approved

According to The Korea Bizwire, Greenland International Hospital, Korea’s first for-profit hospital for foreign patients, has been given final approval by the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province. The decision puts an end to 16 years of controversy over the introduction of investor-owned medical institutions.

In 2015, the Ministry of Health and Welfare approved the establishment of South Korea’s first foreign owned for-profit hospital. China’s Greenland Group built a three-storey Greenland International Hospital on Jeju Island at the cost of $69 million. The plan to open in early 2017 was delayed until now.

Jeju Governor Won Hee-ryong announced the approval of the Greenland International Hospital as a for-profit hospital on condition that it caters only to foreign patients. “The Greenland Hospital has been given conditional approval. Its treatment of domestic patients is prohibited. The hospital can cater only to foreign medical tourists visiting Jeju,” Won said in a news conference. The governor emphasised that the hospital’s medical services will be limited to four departments: plastic surgery, dermatology, internal medicine and family medicine.

Governor Won had said in October 2018 that he planned to back the recommendation of the public opinion survey committee to disapprove the Greenland International Hospital, as a recent public survey, showed that more residents oppose the hospital (58.9%) than approve it (38.9%). He since changed his position, apparently out of concern for a possible lawsuit from the hospital’s investors.

All hospitals in Korea are non-profit ones run by non-profit corporations that must reinvest proceeds only for medical purposes. In 2012, the health ministry changed its regulations to allow for-profit hospitals in eight free economic zones and Jeju Island if half of the total amount of investment comes from foreign investors. Local patients can receive treatment at for-profit hospitals if they forgo their health insurance cover.

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