KOREA: Hospital Ads to Be Allowed on TV

Hospitals and other medical facilities are now allowed to run advertisements on television and radio

Korea Times
Sunday, February 21, 2005

By Kim Rahn

Hospitals and clinics will be allowed to run advertisements through television and radio from next year.

The regulation banning them from putting advertisements in newspapers more than twice a month will also be scrapped, and hospitals will be able to publicize their surgery methods.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said Monday that the government is preparing a revision bill of medical laws to ease regulations, and plans to implement the new laws from next year.

Current medical laws prohibit medical advertisements through television and radio, and allow a hospital to advertise in newspapers and magazines only twice a month, not including advertisements for opening, closing and relocation of hospitals.

The advertisements may also contain doctors’ resumes and surgery methods, as well as 12 items such as the names of doctors and hospitals and the operating hours.

Experts will examine advertisements suspected of containing exaggerated or false information, and punishment will be extended from a one to two month business suspension to three to six months.

Following the measure, hospitals and clinics, especially large hospitals, are expected to actively engage in marketing by introducing their up-to-date operation methods and special medical instruments through mass media advertisements.

Also, along with the policy allowing medical treatment for Koreans at foreign hospitals in free economic zones in Inchon, Pusan and Kwangyang, fierce market competition is expected next year.

"We plan to prepare a revision bill in the first half of the year, and pass it at the ordinary session of the National Assembly. We’ll scrap unnecessary regulations, leaving some restrictions only for exceptional cases," a ministry official said.

Fair Trade Commission chairman Kang Chul-kyu had said in an interview with a radio program last month that the government supports easing of the regulations, as there are criticisms that regulating medical advertisements infringe on the people’s right to know.