For-profit foreign hospitals allowed in FEZ
By Yi Whan-woo
Korea will allow for-profit foreign hospitals to operate in the free economic zone (FEZ) in Incheon, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said Tuesday. The ministry said it has drafted guidelines to enable overseas-funded hospitals and medical service centers to set up operations in the FEZ.
The new rules are designed to provide quality medical services for both expatriates and local patients.
Under the guidelines, any foreign hospitals will have to meet requirements which call for 10 percent of doctors and dentists to have obtained overseas’ licenses. Additionally each department must have at least one doctor with a degree from a foreign medical school.
“The details are to make sure that the institutes really provide quality services, as in advanced countries,” said Kang Joon, deputy director of the health care and policy division at the ministry.
“We will review the status of the applicant hospitals, which will be able to commence construction by late June after receiving approval,” Kang added.
The ministry’s proposal comes after the government gave it permission April 20 to set up details for the country’s FEZ’s hosting of international medical institutions.
Korea planned to allow overseas medical services in the Incheon FEZ since early 2000
A bill was approved in 2002 to let hospitals open branches exclusively for expats, but no detailed regulations have been promulgated since then.
In 2004, the government allowed locals to be eligible for medical treatment at the FEZ. The government initially proposed that a hospital should be 100 percent overseas-funded, but lowered the rate to 50 percent in 2007.
The proposal, however, faces objections from workers in the local health and medical services industry.
They claim the overseas medical institutions are foreign in name as only 10 percent of the doctors and dentists at each are required to have overseas medical licenses.
“The overseas-funded hospitals can also spread outside the FEZ, which could be a threat to our livelihood,” a doctor said.