Parties Agree to 2003 Medical Fee Increase
Reviewed By Hitoshi URABE
"Parties agree to 2003 medical fee increase"
The Asahi Shimbun, Feb 12, 2002
Health care program is a source of headache for any government. The U.S. has been desperately trying to get the scheme straight for a long time. Japan, too, have had problems, in the system itself, and on the way to normalize it. Come Koizumi as the Prime Minister, carrying the flag of Structural Reform, and things seem to have begun moving.
Japanese health care program is complex, having separate plans for various categories of people, where bureaucrats, corporate workers, small business people, and farmers participate in different plans. And it is required for everyone to join one.
The way it is practiced is also somewhat complex. Patients receiving medical services must pay in cash at that point a certain portion of the total cost, and the rest is reimbursed to doctors by the care plans. This portion, however, differs from plan to plan, where 20 percent is paid by some, such as corporate workers, 30 percent must be paid by people subscribing to other plans.
Mr. Koizumi has been pushing for everyone to pay 30 percent regardless of the plan, and the article reports that while two of the parties in the coalition have agreed, there is a strong resistance among the members of LDP, where Mr. Koizumi belongs.
It is not easy to grasp the whole picture in a clear cut manner. There are historical backgrounds as the present care plans have evolved separately through the course of time, and the financial status differs among the plans, while, as always, there are vested interests involved.
It does seem, however, the simplification, that everyone pays the same percentage at the point of service, would make the discussions easier for the badly needed further reform.