Medical and Dental Costs are Very Cheap in Korea

Having been in Korea now for about 14 months, I’ve had to visit the doctor on a few occasions.  Two of them were for minor surgeries.  The first one left me simply amazed at the low cost of medical procedures here.

I had to have this bump on my forehead “treated”, which was a cosmetic procedure no doubt.  In America, cosmetic medical procedures are generally treated as unnecessary and therefore are not covered by most insurance policies.  More than likely, no standard policies.  However, here in Korea my procedure cost me 21,000 won.  That’s about $19 USD.  That’s also amazing!  This procedure involved an anesthetic and stitches.  I’d have to guesstimate that this same procedure in America would generally run about $500 to start, depending on the doctor.  If you go to a larger office or well-known doctor the sky is the limit on cost.  Did I mention it cost me $19?!

Very recently I had a leg injury from judo that caused a pretty bad hematoma on my shin.  That’s basically a very large swollen, bruised area caused by some sort of trauma.  I’ve had these things happen to me over the years, but this one just wasn’t responding to any of my own typical treatment and it started to look like it was on the verge of becoming infected internally.  That would’ve been a bad show.  So I asked my coteacher to bring me to the doctor to have it checked out.  The doctor said it was a hematoma and that he could treat it by lancing and draining it.  I know, it’s gross, but it’s just the way it goes.  I wasn’t happy either.

As it normally goes in America, at this point I would schedule a return appointment to have the procedure done.  But this is Korea and they don’t mess around!  As quickly as I decided to go forward with the procedure, I was sitting on the table with my leg propped up ready to be lanced.

Fast forward a week.  Today, I had stitches put in finally so there wouldn’t be a huge scar – just a little one!  I could’ve let it heal on it’s own, but I decided to go with the stitches.  The initial procedure cost 14,700 won!  That’s $13.25 (by today’s exchange rate).  The stitches I received today cost 8,400 won (about $7.50).  I am still completely blown away by the cost of medical procedures here.  My friend had Lasik done here, and though I forget how much he said it was, he told me it was half what it would be back home in Massachusetts.

I also have a friend who is a dental assistant and she said a crown would cost 200-300,000 won ($180-270 USD).  That’s simply unbelievable to me seeing that they cost about $1,000 and up back home.

When or if you come to Korea to teach English or just to travel, you’ll be happily surprised by the low cost of medical procedures here.  This is all thanks to their public health care system.  I’ve always heard of public health care being Canada’s neighbor, but to experience these low costs first hand was a beautiful thing.  I’m now looking into doing other procedures that I had been putting off knowing that it will be so cheap.  I’ve got this dumb tattoo…


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  3. What is the number or email address of that dentist office? I wanted to inquire. Thank you!

    • I actually don’t go there anymore. The new dentist I go to is called Dr. Kang’s. I don’t have the number off hand – sorry. It’s in Seomyeon and I think he’s listed in Busan Haps or something like that.

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