Korea’s medical fees much lower than in other nations

By Lee Hyun-jeong
  • Published : Jan 15, 2014 - 20:00
  • Updated : Jan 15, 2014 - 20:00
South Korean doctors receive far less in fees for surgeries than other developed countries, a report showed Wednesday.

According to a new report by the Korean Medical Association, the average surgery fees paid to Korean doctors in 2012 were the lowest compared to those of eight advanced countries, including the United States, Australia, Switzerland and France.

In Korea, patients pay part of their medical costs as they belong to the state-regulated health insurance system. For the remainder of the costs, health care providers are reimbursed from the state insurance agency, and the report showed the fees set by the government remain fairly low.

For instance, Korean doctors receive $2,047 in state-supported fees, aside from the fees they get from patients, for conducting an appendectomy. The figure is about 14 percent of what U.S. doctors get and 33 percent of what doctors in Switzerland receive for the same surgery, the report said.

Korean doctors earn $1,329 for performing cataract surgery through the state health insurance system while their counterparts in Switzerland get paid $5,310, nearly four times more, it added.

Korea’s state agency pays $1,769 to doctors for a caesarean section birth, only 10 percent of the fees charged in the U.S.

Other medical costs in Korea, such as the fee for imaging devices, remain low, as well. Computed topography on the abdomen costs $78. Other countries paid doctors at least $120.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (