More than 250,000 foreigners live in Seoul as of December 2009. Do they have appropriate access to medical services? The Seoul Metropolitan Government decided to increase its support for the medical services for foreigners.
The number of exclusive medical facilities for foreigners is to be increased from 11 to 14. And medically trained, English speaking staff will provide information on hospitals and pharmacies that are open to foreigners around the clock. To relieve the communication difficulties during medical treatment, a simultaneous interpretation service for several languages (English, Japanese and Chinese) is to be offered. For migrant workers and disadvantaged people, the Metropolitan Government will provide support for hospitalization and operation expenses and operate free clinics as well.
Exclusive Medical Facilities for Foreigners increased from 11 to 14
To maximize the efficiency of the medical services for foreigners, 11 exclusive medical facilities now operate international clinics, where English speaking doctors, nurses and an exclusive coordinator are available, that offer a one-stop service of appointment, treatment and payment.
The 11 hospitals operating such international clinics are Sinchon Severance Hospital, Asan Medical Center, Samsung Medical Center, Soonchunhyang University Hospital, Hanyang University Hospital, Kyunghee University Hospital, Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, Chungang University Medical Center, Chungang University Yongsan Hospital, and Konkuk University Hospital. In addition, three other hospitals, including Gangnam Severance Hospital, are going to establish international clinics.
24-hours access to information on hospitals and pharmacies available to foreigners and a simultaneous interpretation service
The Seoul Emergency Medical Information Center (1339) provides information on the hospitals and pharmacies that are available for foreigners around the clock. The number of medical facilities currently registered with the center has increased from 703 in 2009 to 928 in 2010, and the center is going to conduct nation-wide surveys on a regular basis to update the status of the medical facilities available to foreigners. The medical facilities opened to foreigners are able to communicate in languages such as Mongolian, French, Spanish, etc., as well as English. And the Dasan Call Center (120) also provides information on these facilities.
The Seoul Emergency Medical Information Center also offers a multilingual service (English, Japanese, and Chinese) to reduce the communication difficulties during the medical treatment of foreigners. Especially, the center as established a night time hotline that offers simultaneous interpretation to provide medical assistance after hours.
The number of foreigners who use the 1339 services is on the rise, and the feedback from the users has been mostly positive.
Medical services for migrant workers and the disadvantaged
The Seoul Metropolitan Government provides disadvantaged foreigners, such as migrant workers, with medical services equivalent to those available to local residents. Seoul city has covered the 1,700 hospital expenses for 140 foreigner cases. In addition, Seoul city provides outcall medical checkups for foreigners, and when tuberculosis or other contagious diseases are discovered, the patients are treated for free.
Each district of Seoul city provides medical services that are suited to their varying characteristics. Yeongdeungpo-gu and Geumcheon-gu operate Global Free Clinics. Yeongdeungpo-gu provides free treatment on Saturdays, tailored health care and consultation. Geumcheon-gu offers nighttime treatment on weekdays and free treatment on weekends, and it also treats patients with metabolic syndrome.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government is planning to make the city more attractive and convenient by expanding its support of the medical services available to foreigners.