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Korea's Health Care Systems

Health care systems

  • Various medical institutions in Korea, including private hospitals and clinics, general hospitals, oriental hospitals and district operated community/public health centers, provide high quality medical services through their medical specialists and cutting-edge medical equipment. Highly advanced medical fields in Korea include ophthalmology, spine surgery, dentistry, plastic surgery, heart surgery and infertility treatment. With the rapidly increasing number of foreigners visiting or residing in Korea, more medical facilities have opened international clinics and have endeavored to provide medical services that best meet foreigners’ medical needs and global standards. Korean medical facilities are categorized into three types by the number of medical departments and the size of the medical facilities. To use third tier hospitals, a patient needs a referral letter from a first or second tier medical facility. If the patient goes directly to a third-tier hospital without a referral letter, he/she cannot receive medical insurance coverage and will have to pay the high medical costs. Foreigners can use medical services from international clinics in third-tier hospitals directly. However, it ismore costly.
    Health care systems : Level, Primary care center, Secondary care center, Tertiary care center
    Level Primary care center Secondary care center Tertiary care center
    Type Clinics and community health centers Hospitals and general hospitals Superior general hospitals
    Medical services provided Outpatient medical services, vaccinations, and health care General medical examinations and inpatient medical services In-depth medical examinations, treatment of disorders and diseases, and heath care
    Medical institutions Clinics, community health centers, branch offices of community health centers, health care centers, maternal and child health centers, maternity clinics, health examination centers, etc. General hospitals consisting of different medical departments University hospitals and general hospitals
  • To receive medical treatment at a general hospital providing tertiary care, a patient should submit a referral issued by a primary (clinic) or secondary (hospital) care center. If a patient goes directly to a tertiary care center without a referral from a primary or secondary care center, he/she may pay higher initial medical expenses.
  • However, emergency patients, patients going through childbirth, hemophiliacs, and patients who visit the dentist, rehabilitation medicine centers, or family medicine clinics can receive medical treatment at a tertiary care center without a referral.