Medical Tourism to South Korea on the Rise

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The number of Korean-Americans visiting South Korea for medical purposes dramatically increased last year, according to the Korea Daily. The Korean Health & Welfare Ministry reported that 21,338 people came to Korea for medical tourism in 2010, up 52 percent from 2009. Of that number, 16,509 were Korean-Americans.

Korea Daily interviewed Do-hyun Jo, manager of Korea Health Industry Development Institute in the U.S, who said that, "To encourage medical tourism to Korea, we offer insurance plans that give treatments or physical examinations in South Korea. A dozen companies are introducing these plans." According to Jo, these insurance companies are hopin that non–Korean Americans will also be interested in the insurance offerings.

According to the ministry, 14 percent went to Korea for cosmetic surgery, 13.5 percent went to Korea for internal medicine, another 13.1 percent for general examination and 9.8 percent for family medicine. Korean Americans overall spent about $1,400 per person for medical purposes when they visit. That number is higher than average foreigner's average expenses for the same purpose.

As to the reason why so many are going to South Korea, it’s because the prices for medical treatments in Korea is much lower than in the U.S.