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Gov`t to Introduce Hospice Care Program

Posted March. 14, 2003 22:40,   


The government plans to introduce a hospice care program to ease heavy burden on terminal cancer patients and their families.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) said on March 14 that it would set new standards on hospice workforce, facilities and insurance coverage. It aims to provide government-level support for terminal cancer patients whose number reaches some 60,000 every year.

Hospice is a health care system designed to help cancer patients facing deaths keep their dignity as human beings until the last moment. 64 hospitals and social services organizations have so far adopted the system.

To secure health care data necessary for the launch of the program, MOHW is set to carry out a pilot project over the next two years.

For the pilot project, the ministry has formed an evaluation board for the health care project and named five organizations including the Family Hospice Center at Ewha Womans University as service providers.

The five organizations will be given 28.8 million won every year from the government and look after cancer patients who are in their deathbed.

The Family Hospice Center at Ewha will offer family care for patients at home, and Gangnam Sungmo Hospital of Catholic University will run a separate unit for terminal cancer patients. Saemmul Hospice will provide medical care services only for cancer patients in the final stage.

Cancer patients facing death spend some 40 to 50% of yearly costs for the two months before they die.

Since 1992, the U.S. government has paid 84% of medical bills for patients diagnosed to live less than 6 months. As 16% of the rest are also covered by private insurance companies, patients only have to pay 1% of the total.

Sang-Keun Song songmoon@donga.com