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Medical corporations will be able to run other businesses, including funeral services and parking lots, beginning in April next year, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said yesterday.

According to the newly revised medical law that will go into effect April 1, 2007, medical corporations will be allowed to profit from providing funeral services, parking lots, health and welfare facilities for the aged people, medical information system businesses, restaurants, barbershops and beauty parlors.

Up to now, medical corporations have been only allowed to profit from education and research.

The ministry said that if a medical corporation runs businesses other than the ones upheld by law, the government will cancel its original permission.

``Such a change in medical law has been made because of the advice from the Regulatory Reform Committee. The committee said that it is improper to ban hospitals from running profit-making businesses in other sectors while social welfare corporations and schools have been allowed to pursue money-making businesses in many sectors, unless their original purpose was tarnished,’’ said Lim Jong-kyu, a health ministry official.

Lim said the government took into account the fact that a large number of medical corporations have already been running restaurants and convenience stores on lease to overcome their financial difficulties.

The ministry also decided to establish a committee composed of medical experts for evaluating safety and efficiency of new medical technology.

If a hospital fails to open treatment information to patients, it will be subject to fines of up to 3 million won.

Although hospitals are obliged by law to put up notice boards to provide patients with cost information and a list of doctors responsible for medical treatment, hospitals don't observe the practice. In many cases, patients have filed lawsuits against hospitals for such failures.

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