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 the global standards.
Korean medical facilities are categorized into three types according to the number of medical departments and size of the medical facilities. To use third-tier hospitals, a patient needs a referral letter from a first- or a second-tier medical facility. A patient who goes directly to a third-tier hospital without a referral letter cannot avail himself/herself of medical insurance coverage, and he/she will have to pay the high medical costs. Foreigners can use medical services from international clinics in third-tier hospitals directly, but they are more costly.
- First-tier medical facilities These types of facilities include private hospitals and public health centers. First-tier medical facilities have a limited number of medical departments and provide comprehensive medical service for treating and preventing early symptoms of diseases.
- Second-tier medical facilities Second-tier medical facilities have medical specialists and more than 4 medical departments, and provide medical services for both inpatients and outpatients. In general, these types of facilities have 30 to 500 beds. Emergency treatment is available.
- Third-tier medical facilities General hospitals or hospitals belonging to medical schools are categorized as third-tier medical facilities. These types of facilities have medical specialists in different medical departments and more than 500 hospital beds and offer specialized medical services for emergencies.
How to make medical appointments
To receive fast and convenient treatment, you are advised to set medical appointments in advance. You can set Living in Seoul 123: Living in Seoul English Edition appointments by visiting or calling the hospital. Appointments may also be set through fax or the hospital website.
Paying for medical treatment
For the payment of medical costs, you need to go to the Administration office of the hospital. Most hospitals accept credit cards for payment. At some hospitals with international clinics, you can pay the medical fees through the international clinics. In general, most general hospitals can provide English receipts for any medical treatment performed. The medical expenses vary depending on whether you have insurance or not. If you have overseas health insurance, insurance coverage may not be honored depending on the hospital. In such case, you have to pay the medical fees in advance and have them reimbursed later by making an insurance payment request.