社会保障会議 「節度ある医療」へ議論深めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun April 24, 2013
Panel should deepen discussions for cost-effective medical system
社会保障会議 「節度ある医療」へ議論深めよ(4月23日付・読売社説)

With Japan facing a so-called super-aged society, the government must arrest sharply increasing expenses of medical and nursing care services and establish a reliable social security system.

The National Council on Social Security System Reform, a government panel discussing this issue, has compiled a number of points regarding reform of medical and nursing care services.

The panel described medical facilities and staff, which are not unlimited, as “assets of the people,” and underlined the importance of their proper use. We consider the panel’s views reasonable for building sustainable medical and nursing care systems.

The point the panel made was that medical services should be altered to allow patients to “receive proper treatment when needed at a proper place and at a minimum cost.”

‘Free access’ to hospitals

At present, Japan’s medical services allow patients to have “free access,” meaning that a patient can visit any medical institution at any time without worrying too much about payments.

This system has brought about a situation that can be described as chaotic, as patients even visit university hospitals when they have a slight cold. As a result, many doctors are overworked.

To rectify the situation, the panel proposed that patients be charged about 10,000 yen if they seek treatment at major hospitals without a referral letter, in addition to regular charges for treatment they receive. The extra charge would not be covered by health insurance.

This would sharply increase the financial burden patients would have to shoulder. We consider it well worth considering.

Among items discussed, the panel said wider use of generic drugs should be realized as soon as possible, as they are cheaper than their original versions.

In the United States, Britain and Germany, generic products account for 60 percent to 70 percent of all prescribed drugs. In Japan, the figure is about 40 percent.

The low usage of generic drugs in this country can be ascribed to deep-seated doubts doctors have of their efficacy, although their quality has improved.

Generic drugs are priced at 20 percent to 70 percent of the original products. If generic drugs are used more widely, medical spending will be reduced.

Regarding prescriptions, which are currently left to the discretion of medical institutions, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry should consider a system in which generic drugs are the main types of medication prescribed.

Treatment at home

The panel also called for an improvement in health and nursing care services at home by suggesting that patients be cured and supported in local communities, rather than relying on hospitals to provide medical treatment.

The panel said prefectural governments should take over the national health insurance program, which deals mainly with self-employed people and is currently operated by municipal governments. This position is reasonable as the panel took into account a number of municipalities in which insurance premiums have sharply risen as fiscal conditions have worsened.

However, it is necessary to discuss these issues from various angles to realize the envisaged measures. The panel is expected to wrap up its discussions by August, as stipulated in a law on integrated reform of social security and tax systems. It is vital for the panel to determine priorities and reach viable conclusions.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 23, 2013)
(2013年4月23日01時26分 読売新聞)

srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク



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