Global Assistance Partners’ CEO Shares the Struggles of Medical Assistance in South Korea



Global Assistance Partners’ Founder and CEO, Gna Chung started the company in 2009. Mr Chung recognised the need for a local network connecting to international medical assistance providers and international private medical insurance companies through his experience as a correspondent for Europ Assistance.

Since then, GAP has pioneered and expanded medical assistance services in South Korea. The company has recently joined International Assistance Group’s (IAG) growing network in Asia.


Learn more from Mr Chung’s experiences in his full interview below.


Q: Can you give us a brief description of GAP’s services and background?

A: In 2009, as the number of foreign travellers and expatriates that needed international standard medical assistance in South Korea grew, Global Assistance Partners was established as an independent and pioneering medical assistance provider that focuses on medical assistance services to the clients of international assistance companies.

Through years of effort and great people, the number of calls handled by the company has been growing rapidly from around 300 cases to 2157 cases from the year of 2009 to 2016 with annual revenue of USD 4,780,000.  Recently, in March 2017, Global Assistance Partners has successfully gone through the IAG Accredited Service Provider accreditation and has been ranked Number 2 in the IAG 2016 Quality Scoring of the IAG Correspondents

Global Assistance Partners place a high value on understanding foreign culture, their language, and clinical training in order to understand clients’ needs more precisely and considerably.

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Q: Can you tell us about your own challenges as the CEO of GAP?

A: Challenges we face every day here is to make local medical facilities understand the process of medical assistance and draw their co-operation. Unlike foreign patients, South Korean patients are covered by a certain percentage by the South Korean National Health Insurance which is run by the government. Therefore, hospitals do not know how to process insurance claims from patients with private medical insurance; placing guarantees of payment and providing medical reports to third-party insurance providers is not a familiar process to local healthcare providers. The process to provide information to third-party assistance or insurance providers is challenging due to complicated and strict local privacy laws as well.

Our team encounters the following challenges:

  • Local doctors have an average of 100 consultations daily, an average of 5 minutes consultation per patient, so it is hard to get a medical report on time on many occasions.
  • Good international standard general hospitals are concentrated in Seoul, so patients outside the Seoul area may have to be evacuated to Seoul for surgery or other emergencies.
  • Delayed guarantee of payment (GOP) causes problems for patients, hospital administration, and GAP.
  • Confidentiality of medical information is very strict, so it is difficult to get medical information over the phone from the medical staff. Or if we dispatch staff to the hospital for medical information, it is required to submit a designated form by the government which should be filled in and signed by the patient.

As thousands of expatriates and travellers from hundreds of countries are entering South Korea, the expectation and preference of patients’ request become much more complicated. For example, clients requiring more experienced doctors better furnished and equipped medical facilities, closer clinics from their location, etc.

To satisfy the needs of our clients, as the CEO of GAP, I have recognised the challenges and importance of coordination between IPMI (International Private Medical Insurance) and medical assistance business to medical facilities, especially, in this global age. Throughout several years with my marketing and network team, GAP put much effort to create close working relationships. GAP continuously hold annual conferences with hospitals which are interested in the IPMI industry as well as regular business trips nation-wide to find international standard quality medical facilities which can be effectively used for international patients and insurance. As a result, GAP has been maintaining a strong working relationship with local hospitals and managed to have a nation-wide network of around 200 medical facilities where our clients can receive medical service within one-hour driving distance wherever they are in South Korea.


Q: What makes GAP’s medical assistance service unique from others in the market right now?

A: GAP handles the biggest number of cases for the members of IPMI in South Korea. Medical assistance companies in South Korea usually offer services limited to Seoul city. Compared to others in the local market. GAP maintains a close working relationship with a nationwide network of over 200 medical facilities. We are also experienced in complicated repatriation and evacuation services, including repatriation of mortal remain service, in any part of the country.   

As we have been working with international insurance and assistance companies from all over the world, we’ve seen thousands of different policies and benefits. We assist each case by utilising local knowledge of culture, traditions and behaviour of appropriate service providers to deliver the right results, at the right time and for an acceptable cost.


Q: What is GAP focusing on for 2017?

A: Aside from our annual investment in employees’ education and welfare, IT solution, providers relation, clients support, etc., we will be focusing on meeting and hearing our clients to monitor and improve the quality of the service we render.

Recently we have successfully gone through IAG accreditation as IAG Accredited Service Provider. We believe this brings us a good exposure in the industry to remain as the Number One Local Assistance Partner to our existing clients as well as our potential clients.


Q: What kinds of trends and developments do you see in the global assistance industry recently?

A: As a small assistance company in South Korea, we see our business industry getting tough and competitive. We see the global assistance industry consolidating with big names and organisations. We see the local assistance companies joining bigger global companies to ensure long-term survival.


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