Medical Travel Guide: Travel to South Korea for treatment
South Korea is a country of highly developed technologies, where medicine is at the highest-level combining Western and Oriental techniques. Tourists from all over the world come to South Korea for treatment and recreation. Now it is a rich and influential country not only in Asia but also in the whole world. A trip to South Korea is an amazing opportunity to visit two worlds simultaneously: to see the fast and luxurious world of high technology and the modern economy and to touch the antiquity of this country.
Facts about South Korea
- South Korea is located in East Asia and covers the southern regions of the Korean peninsula. The country is washed by the Japanese and the Yellow Sea and borders with China in the west, with North Korea in the north and Japan in the east.
- The official language in South Korea is Korean. In modern Korean, there are several dialects, but now most Koreans use literary language.
- South Korea is the historic home of one of the oldest civilizations, the history of which is over 4300 years old.
- Korea is a country with a high population density. The average density in South Korea is 163 people per 1 km2. Only Japan surpasses Korea in terms of population density from the Asian countries. Even in countries such as India and China, the average population density is much lower.
- Every year, more than 10 million foreign tourists visit Korea, which is attracted by its rich history and traditions as well as a variety of tourist attractions. Many of foreigners visit South Korea for treatment, too.
- South Korea occupies a leading position in the medical market of Asian countries, as all services provided by clinics have a highly professional level.
- Due to high-quality treatment, high level of professional medicine, and early diagnosis of diseases, life expectancy in the country exceeds 80 years, which is one of the best by today.
Health system in South Korea
Medicine in South Korea has made a breakthrough through the preservation of traditional methods and the introduction of advanced Western technologies, skillfully used by Korean doctors. Today, South Korean medicine has reached fantastic heights in a short time. Its clear leadership is not only among the countries of Asia but also in the whole world. What are the health care benefits of South Korea?
- The model of health care in the country is similar to the American system, where 90% of institutions are private.
- High competition in the world market of medical services stimulates constant improvement of quality.
- Widely used methods of oriental medicine with modern methods of treatment.
- Obligatory state and international attestation
- An unusual approach in dealing with the personnel issue
In South Korea, the population is focused on a healthy lifestyle. According to the UN, the average life expectancy of the South Koreans is 80.3 years. It should be remembered that back in 1960, the average life expectancy in the country was only 52 years. Experts say that the main reasons for the increase in life expectancy in South Korea are improving living conditions and improving the health system.
In recent years, the government has invested heavily in the development and promotion of medical tourism. Thanks to this, financial revenues to the state treasury have significantly increased. Only in 2013, revenues from this sphere amounted to more than 187 million dollars. Every year, state accreditation takes place, which helps to filter out institutions with a low level. All leading clinics are required to have JCI international accreditation.
In all medical centers of the country, both traditional Western treatment technologies and eastern methods are used. Traditional medicine is also in demand in Korea. It is used even in the treatment of quite serious diseases. This is the main reason why people choose South Korea for treatment.
Popular treatments and costs in South Korea
Such fields of medicine as oncological diseases, cardiovascular, infertility, plastic surgery (the highest number of operations in the world) are one of the priorities in the country. South Korea retains the highest percentage of successful operations, which can only be compared with the indicators of the best European medical centers. The cost of services is much lower than in the US or Japan, and rather approaching the level of prices for medical services in Singapore and Thailand.
- Oncology. Every year, several million people are diagnosed with cancer. This serious disease, which is a malignant tumor, can occur even in a young person. Korean doctors have made significant progress in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Doctors in this country are universally recognized world professionals. It is not surprising that most of the operations to remove cancer tumors are successful here. For example, the likelihood that thyroid cancer will be cured in South Korea is more than 99%. A high percentage of patients recovered from prostate cancer, gastric, breast, and cervix. The surgical treatment of cancer used gamma knife and cyber knife. Thousands of patients who come every year to South Korea for treatment have been cured.
- Arthroplasty. A number of diseases (arthrosis), as well as age-related changes, can lead to a disruption of the normal functioning of the hip and knee joint. Arthroplasty is the replacement of a damaged or worn joint with an artificial implant. This method is actively used in leading medical centers in South Korea. During the operation, high-quality endoprostheses are used that have increased strength and are absolutely neutral to the human body. The excellent technical equipment of orthopedic clinics in South Korea and the highest level of skill of Korean specialists are already appreciated all over the world. Now their services in this area are provided by orthopedic departments of a number of authoritative medical institutions of the country. In orthopedic clinics and specialized centers South Korea, doctors treat various types of violations of the musculoskeletal system, both congenital and resulting from injuries and diseases.
- Plastic surgery. Today, Korea is on the 4th place in the ranking of countries where plastic operations are in high demand. Only the USA, Brazil, and Japan overtake it. A distinctive feature of plastic surgery in Korea is the emphasis on minimally invasive and gentle methods. Reduction of the rehabilitation period is also given considerable attention. It is very convenient for tourists who come to South Korea for treatment. Plastic surgery in Korea involves extensive use of laser and endoscopic technologies, which are low traumatic. Plastic surgery in Korea is not limited to the actual operation. Here, many rehabilitation programs have been developed, which help to recover after the operation in the shortest possible time. It should be noted and high level of service in Korean clinics of plastic surgery. A personal assistant, an interpreter for foreign patients who chose South Korea for treatment and a specially equipped apartment for rehabilitation after surgery is a normal part of the service in many clinics.
The cost of diagnosis and treatment in South Korea, as well as everywhere in the world, depends on the level of the medical institution and its location. World-famous hospitals take a higher price for treatment. However, the prices for treatment are much lower than European and American prices. Let us look at the prices of popular procedures.
Approximate prices for some medical services:
- Breast augmentation : about $7,500-13,750
- Dental Implant : about $1,850-3,250
- Rhinoplasty : about $ 2,300-3,250
- LASIK, twoeyes : about $3,250-4,630
- Gastrectomy (cancer) : about $10,200-14,450
- Cataract, one eye : about $925-2,700
- General examination : about $460-740
- Hip replacement : about $13,100-25,300
Cities and clinics/hospitals in South Korea
Since 2009, the government of the country has allowed all state medical institutions to treat foreign patients wishing to come to South Korea for treatment. Top cities for medical tourism are Incheon, Seoul, Daejeon, Ansan, and Phaju. These cities are famous for their development and the number of accredited medical centers. In most cases, tourists who come to South Korea for treatment are referred to these cities and others.
- Kuims Medical Center. The multifaceted center “Kuims” is located in Seoul at Kyonghi University. It was opened in 1965. Since then, more than 10,000 different operations are performed annually in the clinic. 500 thousand patients seek treatment with a wide range of diagnoses. Admission and hospitalization of patients are conducted 24 hours a day. In 2012, the clinic introduced a system of priority for foreign patients, which allows obtaining the necessary examinations and treatment without waiting in queues. In the center of Kuims, there are 140 doctors of various specialties and more than five hundred people of average medical personnel. In the center of the hospital, up to 800 patients can be accommodated at the same time. In 2012, the Center Kuims received a special award from the Ministry of Health of Korea as “The highest-level clinic for surgical treatment of cancer of the stomach, intestines, and liver.”A distinctive feature of the center is the combination of modern western and traditional oriental medicine, which has received the name of integrative medicine of the XXI century. This gives new opportunities for curing patients with allergies to medications or anesthesia.
- Gangnam Severance Hospital. The “Severance” at Yonse University in Seoul was opened in 1885 and became the first Western-type hospital in South Korea. Today Severance consists of five large centers, including Gangnam and Sinchon in Seoul and several small clinics in other cities. Annually 600 thousand people are treated in the hospital; the number of beds is 3700. Admission of emergency patients is conducted around the clock. Gangnam Severance is accredited by JCI and Class A (highest) by the Korean system of classification of medical institutions. The specialists of the clinic for the first time successfully transplanted the lung and implemented the practice with the help of the robot “Da Vinci”. In the center, there are 150 professors who are authors of scientific works and participants of world medical conferences. The clinic has a special children’s department. The center is equipped with high-precision diagnostic and therapeutic equipment, such as PET-CT (apparatus of radiotherapy and tomo therapy).
- The Asan multidisciplinary medical center. The Asan Center was opened in 1989 in Seoul and is by today is the largest medical center in South Korea. It has 49 treatment departments, 42 specialized centers such as oncology, diabetic, asthmatic, stroke center, medical examination, children’s cancer. Patients are offered 2700 beds. Annually more than 50 000 complicated operations are carried out here. More than a hundred foreign patients a day who come to South Korea for treatment visit the center of Asan. Asan, six years in a row received the title of the best hospital in South Korea, it was the first multi-visceral transplantation of seven organs. Here, for the first time, a pediatric emergency medical care center was opened and an operation for liver transplantation from a living donor was performed.
Travel and accommodation in South Korea
The location of South Korea is very beneficial for residents of the Far East and Siberia. These tourists are much easier and faster to get to Seoul than to Berlin or New York. Among the patients of Korean clinics, there are a lot of residents of the central part of Russia. For a stay in the country not exceeding 60 days, a visa is not required. It will be enough to have a valid passport, a return ticket. For a longer stay, you need to issue a G-1 visa (issued for up to 1 year) or C-3-3 (if the treatment period is less than 90 days).
Public transport in Korea is very well developed and very cheap. It is difficult to use city buses for foreigners: all announcements and inscriptions are only in Korean. The main types of transport for tourists who came to South Korea for treatment are taxis and metro.
Most clinics offer their accommodation to patients who apply to South Korea for treatment. The wards in the clinics are very comfortable and good equipped, there is everything. The Korean classification of hotels differs from the European one. Usually, a double room in hotels of “super-lux” class (5 stars) costs from $ 200 to 400 (without additional services). In luxury hotels (5 stars), the room costs $ 150-250. In hotels of the first class (4 stars) from 100 to 150 $; second class (3 stars) from 50 to 100 $; third class (2 stars) from 30 to 100 $. Prices largely depend on the season and location of the hotel.
FAQ when going to South Korea for treatment
- Why should I choose South Korea for treatment?
Every patient of the Korean clinic is a VIP-person, regardless of how much money he spent on treatment. Politeness and respect are an integral part of Korea’s culture. Particular attention is paid to foreign patients.
- How can I understand doctors in Korean?
In every major hospital, staff is involved in helping foreign patients. They work as interpreters, personal assistants, and medical coordinators who are ready to help with the resolution of any issue.
- Is it true that South Korea has the best medical equipment?
South Korea is one of the leaders in the production of modern medical equipment. The equipment from Samsung and other companies are in high demand even in clinics in Germany and Japan where there is no shortage of own manufacturers.
- How to calculate the cost of treatment, are there any discounts in Korea?
There are no official discounts for foreigners in Korea, only private shares of individual clinics. Prices for tests in hospitals are official and fixed.
- How soon will we receive the results of the medical examination?
The results of the basic medical examination will be ready within 3 to 5 working days. The readiness of the results of more detailed studies can take up to 10 days.
- Do I need an accompanying person?
It is always good to have someone who will always be near, especially at a difficult moment. However, if surgery is necessary, the hospital often asks for an accompanying person.
- What should be done in the case of medical incidents during medical tourism?
The Arbitration Court for the settlement of medical disputes in Korea provides free advice on medical disputes.
- Does health insurance cover foreign citizens?
If a foreign citizen has conditions, he can register for national health insurance and receive basic protection equally with Korean nationals.
- Is it possible to consult a doctor without a personal visit to the hospital?
It is possible. The first consultation is most often conducted via the Internet or by telephone.
- How to pay medical expenses and other payments?
The patient usually pays all services personally: the cost of air tickets, hotel expenses, medical expenses, and any other expenses are paid directly by the patient in the relevant institution.