The future of Greenland International Hospital, which aimed to be Korea’s first for-profit hospital, has become uncertain since the “Public Opinion Investigation Committee” has voted against its establishment on Oct. 4.
Unlike non-profit hospitals, for-profit hospitals give back portion of the revenue to investors, who then can use the benefits to invest more or reap profits.
The government has been trying to establish for-profit hospitals since 2002 to generate new revenue and jobs from the sector. However, the plan has repeatedly failed to receive the green light in the face of negative public opinions formed by civic groups about the commercialization of medical services.
After three administrative changes, Korea’s first for-profit hospital received a go-ahead from the President Park Geun-hye administration in 2015.
The project seemed to sail smoothly as Greenland Group, a China-based real estate company, spent 77.8 billion won ($69 million) to build a 47-bed hospital in Jeju Island. After finishing the construction of the hospital, the Greenland Group employed approximately 100 doctors and nurses to run the hospital.
However, all these efforts might go up in smoke as Governor Won Hee-ryong of Jeju Province said he would respect the recommendation of the public opinion survey committee on the Greenland International Hospital in the best possible way.
Also, the recent public survey, held days before the committee’s recommendation, showed that more residents oppose the hospital (58.9 percent) than approve it (38.9 percent).
If disapproved, Greenland Group is likely to appeal the decision and even sue both the Korean government and Jeju provincial government if the situation aggravates.
“The approval of the Greenland hospital has not been rejected,” a Jeju Special Self-Governing Province official told Korea Biomedical Review, asking to remain anonymous. “The governor said he would respect the recommendation of the committee, but there is still much to be discussed among the parties involved.”
The final decision will come out after a thorough discussion, she added.