Foreign patients rise 37%

By Claire Lee
  • Published : May 20, 2014 - 21:06
  • Updated : May 20, 2014 - 21:06
More than 210,000 foreigners from 191 countries were treated in medical institutions in Korea last year, leading to revenue of nearly 393 billion won ($384 million), according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

The number of foreign patients climbed by 36.9 percent in 2013 from the year before.

The largest number of patients came from China, the U.S. and Russia. The number of Russian patients, in particular, rose 46 percent to 24,000 in 2013 from 16,000 in 2012.

Chinese patients brought the most money into Korea’s medical industry in 2013, spending 101.6 billion won. Patients from Russia spent the second-largest amount ― 87.9 billion won.

There were 117 foreign patients who spent more than 100 million won on medical treatment in Korea last year. Patients from the UAE had the highest average cost at 17.7 million won. The figure is almost 9.5 times higher than the average cost of 1.8 million won for a single foreign patient in Korea in the same year.

According to the Welfare Ministry, most of the Chinese patients visited cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists here, while many Russians were treated by gynecologists and general physicians.

“Our goal is to have 1 million foreign patients by the year 2020,” the ministry said in a statement. “We are also planning to introduce measures to protect the patients, by establishing a fraud claims center.”

From 2009 to 2013, some 630,000 patients from overseas visited Korean medical institutions, spending some 1 trillion won.

By Claire Lee (