Gov't invites doctors for talks ahead of medical strikeUpdated: 2014-03-13 21:57:34 (KST)
Medical doctors and the government are preparing for a meeting after Prime Minister Chung Hong-won proposed talks by March 20th to seek a compromise.
The Korean Medical Association of doctors, upset over government's plans to implement telemedicine and to set up for-profit subsidiaries is planning a six-day strike from March 24 unless an agreement is reached.
Doctors claim the government plan could undermine public health.
The government, on the other hand, says the new telemedicine system is necessary to offer benefits to the elderly, disabled and patients in remote areas, along with people with chronic diseases.
The doctors are also calling for a reform of the current public health plan saying it earns them unreasonably low consultation fees but at the same time burdens the public because of the high costs for services not covered by the state-run health system.
Many Koreans rely on private insurance as the public health plan does not cover the full range of expenses.
Medical fees in Korea are relatively cheaper than those of most developed countries.
For example, artery bypass surgery in Koresa costs one sixth of what it costs in the U.S.
Hospitals have been accused of offsetting their losses by advising patients that they undergo costly checkup services such as MRIs.
An OECD survey shows, the pace of rise in medical spending is the second highest in Korea among member countries.
Song Ji-sun, Arirang News.
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