UAE soldiers to visit Korean hospitals

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UAE soldiers to visit Korean hospitals

In another effort to promote medical tourism, the government said yesterday that starting from next year soldiers from the United Arab Emirates will be able to receive treatment in hospitals here.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare Wednesday announced measures to expand Korea’s global healthcare program and attract more patients from abroad in a crisis and emergency management policy meeting along with the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

Health Minister Rim Chae-min stated, “In order for Korea to become a leading nation in the global medical market we will focus on ten core measures with the cooperation of related branches to generate a virtuous circle to encourage inbound patients here and outbound hospitals abroad.”

There are currently some 120,000 foreign patients treated in Korea this year, which the government plans to increase to one million by 2020, according to the Health Ministry. Currently, only 0.6 percent of patients in Korean hospitals are foreign, which the government said it hopes to increase to 5 percent in eight years’ time.

Every year, the Emirati Ministry of Defence sends some 4,000 army officers and their families abroad to countries such as the United Kingdom and United States for treatment. A tenth of these patients will be sent to Korea starting from next year, said health officials, once the Korea Health Industry Development Institute comes to an agreement with the UAE next month.

These patients will be accepted into four university hospitals here. Many of these patients suffer from cancer or cardiovascular disease or are in need of organ transplants.

Officials estimate that there is some 200 billion won ($183 million) to be made in treating these patients related to the Emirati Army.

The Health Ministry further stated that it plans on pushing for legislation to allow Korean insurance companies to sell plans to foreign patients later this month.

By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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