Why Japanese Health Care is Bad

Harden, Blaine. 2009. “Health Care in Japan: Low-Cost, for Now: Aging Population Could Strain System.” Washington Post. (7 September).
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/06/AR2009090601630.html?sid=ST2009090601646

“Half a world away from the U.S. health-care debate, Japan has a system that costs half as much and often achieves better medical outcomes than its American counterpart. It does so by banning insurance company profits, limiting doctor fees and accepting shortcomings in care that many well-insured Americans would find intolerable.”

“But many health-care economists say Japan’s low-cost system is probably not sustainable without significant change. Japan already has the world’s oldest population; by 2050, 40 percent will be 65 or older. The disease mix is becoming more expensive to treat.”

So, public intervention of the medical system is obviously bad. The problem is that the Japanese health system makes the mistake of failing to let enough people die.  The article does admit that a healthy lifestyle is also a factor, but let’s hope that the US does not follow Japan.

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2 comments so far

  1. Jason on

    Depends on how the longevity matches up with greater actual health. If, for instance, the Japanese citizen lives ten more healthy years than the American, then he’s got ten more years to generate the income to finance his medical expenditures. That can’t be a bad thing.

    On the other hand, if the Japanese citizen lives ten more diseased years, then the financing runs into trouble.

    The focus of the healthcare system has to shift from treatment to HEALTH. Then it will become sustainable.

  2. tylerandalyssa on

    Many of Japan’s oldest citizens are healthy. Even though they live longer they are still active and rarely burden the system by moving in and out of hospitals (or living in retirement homes). Many work past the 65 year “limit” seen in the U.S. and create good productivity. Of course, it would be more “efficient on the system” if people died shortly after retirement. However, we’re human and at our best we seek to help people live fuller and longer. It’s no mistake to “fail to let enough people die”.


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