Charging More: What Color is Your Skin?

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Foreigners are used to paying more than the locals when they travel. It’s a fact of life when it comes to buying knickknacks, taxis and eating out. However, should it be the same for medical services? Today’s Korea Times wrote an article about the fact that major medical hospitals are overcharging foreigners for their services. Read this disturbing tidbit:

However, the majority of hospitals claim that foreigners are not subject to the Medical Law. And if their argument is correct, foreigners cannot be protected from malpractice and other legal risks.

Foreigners are used to paying more than the locals when they travel. It’s a fact of life when it comes to buying knickknacks, taxis and eating out. However, should it be the same for medical services? Today’s Korea Times wrote an article about the fact that major medical hospitals are overcharging foreigners for their services. Read this disturbing tidbit:

However, the majority of hospitals claim that foreigners are not subject to the Medical Law. And if their argument is correct, foreigners cannot be protected from malpractice and other legal risks.

Expert say that two-tier pricing may also violate the Fair Trade Law, which stipulates that unfair or discriminatory deals can be punished by a fine of up to 2 percent of the gross sales.

The article mainly focuses on two implications: how this will affect the budding medical tourism economy and how this system will encourage hospitals to develop better care for the rich at the price of social welfare/access for the poor and middle class. The line about the legal implications for medical malpractice is particularly disturbing. How can Korea hope to attract high class medical tourists if it doesn’t adhere to OECD level regulations protecting their investment in their body?

Now, I agree that hospitals running international clinics who have higher costs involved with getting multilingual receptionists, translators and doctors should be allowed to charge a little extra. However, this article talks about hospital care treating foreigners as a whole, insured or not, international clinics or not. Here is an implication that the article doesn’t touch upon: what about affordable care for people on working visas? Why should we be subject to the tourist prices when in fact we are contributing members of society?

And for your daily Alex is a spaz update: last night I burned my thumb on my bibimbap bowl when trying to move my water glass out of the way. I now have an extremely attractive blister on the knuckle of my thumb. Go me!



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