Korea allows hospitals to market to medical tourists


The government in Korea has approved a bill allowing hospitals to use marketing tactics to encourage overseas patients, it has been revealed.

Existing laws ban all such incentives, but the latest Cabinet decision will pave the way for hospitals to offer free transportation and discounts for patients seeking treatment abroad.

Lee Young-ho, director of global marketing at the Korea Medicine Overseas Promotion Council, told the Korea Times that the government move will help to promote medical tourism.

"For the past few years, it is true that hospitals were unable to find patients who, in turn, have difficulty in finding the right doctors for their treatment," he revealed. "Now both sides will benefit from the system."

Korea is well-known for its modern medical equipment and low-cost treatment.

The nation has recently enjoyed an increase in medical tourists, up from 760 in 2005 to 16,000 in 2007, according to data from the organisation Korean Hospitality in Healthcare.

However, the figure is likely to jump as a result of the latest forthcoming deregulation, which should make it much easier - and much more attractive - for overseas patients to obtain treatment in Korea.

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