Hero captain rescued from big hospital bills

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Hero captain rescued from big hospital bills

Seok Hae-gyun, the heroic captain of the Samho Jewelry, who was shot by Somali pirates while trying to save his hijacked ship and crew on Jan. 21, is facing another crisis: trying to pay the bills for the surgeries that saved his life.

Seok’s hospital bills since he was flown back to Korea after the ship’s rescue have snowballed to 175 million won ($162,575) as of Wednesday. The captain needs at least two more surgeries.

Media reports earlier this week said Ajou University Hospital asked Seok to pay up, and if he couldn’t, the hospital would have to discharge him.Yesterday, the hospital explained its policy had been “misunderstood.”

“It’s true that we asked for a midtreatment payment,” a hospital official told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday. “But we have no reason to pressure Seok into paying. It wouldn’t be right to ask Captain Seok to leave, and we believe the insurance company for Samho Shipping will provide money.”

In fact, Samho Shipping, which was supposed to pay Seok’s medical bills, filed for bankruptcy after the company suffered massive losses with the ransom payment for the Samho Dream, which was hijacked by Somali pirates in April 2010 and released seven months later after pirates were paid $9.5 million.

After Seok’s financial difficulties were reported in the media, the CEO of one Korean company offered to cover his hospital bills. Sung Woan-jong, CEO of Keangnam Enterprises, a construction company, said he would pay Seok’s medical bills with funds from the Seosan Scholarship Foundation, if the insurance company doesn’t. Sung is chairman of the foundation.

Sung’s offer was reported exclusively to the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday, and he was quoted as saying: “A national hero shouldn’t be treated this way.”

By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [머니투데이]
아주대병원, "석선장 병원비 삼호해운이 책임지기로"

아주대병원은 최근 논란이 되고 있는 석해균 선장의 병원비와 관련, 보도자료를 내고 "삼호해운 측에서 책임지겠다고 알려왔다"고 13일 밝혔다.

이와 관련, 석 선장의 병원비 1억7500만원은 삼호해운이 법정관리 중이라는 이유로, 보험사는 사후지급이 원칙이라는 이유로 미루고 있어 아직 정산되지 않은 상태다.

석 선장은 업무상 부상을 당한 것으로 국민건강보험법이 아니라 선원법에 적용돼 치료비를 100% 보상받게 돼 있다. 하지만 선주인 삼호해운이 법정관리 상태라 자산이 동결돼 있어 당장 정산을 못하고 있다.

이런 상황이 알려지며 일부에서는 석 선장을 국가사회발전에 공로가 있는 부상자인 `국가유공자`로 보고 정부가 의료비를 지원해야 한다는 주장부터, 보험사와 회사 측이 하루빨리 협의해 부담하라는 주장이 맞섰다.

병원 측은 "삼호해운 측에 중간정산을 하지 않으면 강제 퇴원시키겠다고 말한 사실이 전혀 없다"며 "아주대병원은 병원비 지급과 관계없이 석 선장 치료에 전념하고 있다"고 강조했다.
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