BioScience Trends. 2008;2(2):50-52.
Long live the health care system in Japan.
In Japan, a cost-containment policy has been implemented with health care system reform. Increasing medical expenses are inevitable due to aging of the population, health transitions, and expanded and advanced medical services. Policies such as the introduction of regressive reimbursement for inpatient services as part of social insurance, the reduction in the number of hospital beds, fewer medical examinations, and curtailed usage of medical tests have jeopardized the accessibility and quality of medical services, especially for the elderly. Compared to other developed countries, both the proportion of the government's payment of health expenses and the proportion of health expenses in proportion to GDP are lower in Japan. To confront the challenges of an aging society in terms of finances and the health care system, policymakers from the Ministry of Health should take a comprehensive approach instead of a mere cost-containment policy.