Markets In Everything: Medical Tourism in S. Korea
SINGAPORE: South Korea revised its law two months ago to allow hospitals to directly seek foreign patients. And this has reaped results, going by the latest statistics. In May, the number of foreigners who visited South Korea for medical treatment jumped by about 40% to 1,061, compared to a year ago. South Korea is the latest country to jump on the medical tourism bandwagon. Under the new law, hospitals can go all out to attract foreign patients, such as paying commissions to agents for referrals. The country has also eased visa regulations for overseas patients.
The global medical tourism sector is expected to grow by 15 to 20% every year. Asia's medical tourism market is worth over $5 billion and will attract over 6 million patients by 2012. South Korea plans to tap on this potential by marketing its accessibility and low cost. Brian Suh, researcher of Global Healthcare Business Centre, Korea Health Industry Development Institute, said: "Korea has good medical skills and easy accessibility, and there's no waiting time."