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Study Says Korea’s Health Care Lacking

Posted February. 15, 2006 04:43,   


Korea’s competitiveness in the medical industry lags far behind that of developed countries, according to a medical research paper.

The paper, titled: “An Examination of Competitiveness in the Medical Industry: Comparisons and Research on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development,” (OECD) and written by Dr. Kang Seong-wuk at the Samsung Health Care Management Research Institute and Professor Kwon Young-dae of Sungkyunkwan University, rates Korea’s health care at just 26 percent of America’s and 38 percent of Japan’s. The paper also rates Korean patient satisfaction at 5.5 points on a scale of zero to 10, well behind developed countries such as the U.S. and Japan that have 6.2 and 7.7 ratings, respectively.

The paper is the first to study Korea’s competitiveness in the medical industry. It will be officially released at a scientific conference at Sungkyunkwan University February 16-17.

Kang and Kwon analyzed the competitiveness of Korea’s medical industry based on surveys conducted by international economic research institutes such as the World Economic Forum and the International Institute for Management Development, and 2005 OECD health data.

According to their research, Korea only scores a 26 compared to America’s 100 in terms of medical industry competitiveness. The U.S. is followed by Germany (80), Britain (79), France (77), and Japan (69).

Korea’s medical industry invested $94 per capita in the health care sector from 2000 to 2002, which is low compared with Canada at $278, Japan at $252, and America at $218.

Total Korean health care research development costs are $2 per capita, far behind America at $103 and Japan at $42.80.

The paper also reveals that Korea has fewer doctors compared to developed countries. Korea has 1.5 doctors per 1,000 people, while industrialized countries have two to three. Korea also has only 1.7 nurses per 1,000, while other countries average seven.

As Korea’s medical industry competitiveness decreases, the number of Koreans who are going abroad to get medical treatment is increasing. The industry estimates that approximately $400 million dollars was spent on overseas medical expenses last year.

Ye Dental Network representative Park In-chul said, “Current medical law doesn’t allow companies to invest. So doctors have no choice but to invest their own money. In addition, the level of clinical treatment in Korea is not as high as doctors think.”

Kang, one of the authors of the paper, said, “Private medical corporations and private medical insurance should be introduced as soon as possible, and the government should assist each sector that is lagging behind to improve Korea’s medical industry competitiveness.”

Hyun-Jin Park witness@donga.com