The South Korean government is trying to get people to get medical procedures done for a fraction of the cost, and afterward, stick around to help its economy:

South Korea has joined Thailand, Singapore, India and other Asian nations in the lucrative business of medical tourism. Heart bypasses, spinal surgery, hip-joint replacements, cosmetic surgery — procedures that may cost tens of thousands of dollars in the United States — can often be done for one-third or even one-tenth of the cost in Asia, with much shorter waiting times and by specialists often trained in the West.

Americans fleeing the high cost of medicine at home have spurred the trend. Last year, 750,000 Americans sought cheaper treatment abroad, a figure projected to reach 6 million by 2010, according to a recent study by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, a consultancy. Asian nations are also wooing wealthy Middle Eastern patients who have found it more difficult to get a visa to enter the United States since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The number of foreigners coming to South Korea for medical care is still a fraction of those getting treatment in India, Thailand and Singapore, industry officials said. But clinics and the South Korean government are trying hard to attract these tourists, who not only bring in money for cash-strapped hospitals but also help the economy by staying on to shop and sightsee after their procedure is over.

[read the entirety of the NYTimes article]

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