New rules for inbound medical tourism to South Korea

Medical tourists are allowed into South Korea with the same rules on quarantine and tests as applied to tourists. But serious cases, such patients who need urgent cancer surgery, chemotherapy, transplantation or trauma treatment can quarantine in hospital. Hospital quarantine is also allowed for patients who have tested negative for Covid-19, or have an international medical certificate from the medical institution with a confirmed appointment.

The Korea International Medical Association has produced a guide to the special entry for international patients and has recently added to that with a guide to patients on how to behave in hospital.

The latest statistics show that the number of foreign patients increased from 296,889 in 2015 to 378,767 in 2018 and 497,464 in 2019.

In 2019, 8,983 patients came from the Middle East including 4,089 from the UAE, accounting for 46% of the MENA total.

The 2019 Satisfaction Survey of Middle East patients with medical and non-medical services in Korea showed 92% were satisfied and 100% would both revisit Korea for medical tourism and would recommend Korea to their acquaintance.

An important backer in Korea’s rise to global medical prominence is the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), a government-affiliated institution which supports the enhancement of international competitiveness in the health industry.

KHIDI has attracted foreign patients and supported the overseas expansion of Korean medical institutions by establishing links with local government authorities and organisations in the Middle East and Africa.

KHIDI has had a contract with UAE Armed Forces since 2013 and annually 1,000 government funded patients from the UAE visited Korean medical facilities.