Foreigners-Only Hospitals in South Korea’s SEZs

South Korea’s Ministry of Finance and Economy recently announced their plans to develop five Special Economic Zones (SEZs) throughout the country. The plan is part of the Korean government’s endeavor to attract greater foreign investments into the country. Besides special tax incentives as well as one-stop administrative services, the plan will also allow the establishment of hospitals and pharmacies solely for foreigners.

The Ministry will allow foreign hospitals and pharmacies to set up operations within the five SEZs that are to be located in: Yongjong Island, Songdo, Gimpo, Pusan Port, and Gwangyang Port. The first three of the SEZs listed are located west of Korea’s capital city, Seoul. In order to make the lives of foreigners living in Korea more comfortable, foreign hospitals and pharmacies will also be able to form joint ventures with local health care providers. These foreigners only hospitals will not be subject to the Korean medical insurance system.

The establishment of these special facilities for foreigners will go far in alleviating concerns regarding living in South Korea for foreigners. According to a recent survey by the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements (KRIHS), 70.7% of 208 foreign respondents expressed discontent toward Seoul’s medical services due to difficulty in communication, 16% due to high prices, while 12% claimed low quality.