[EDITORIALS]Some Health Merger Preconditions

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[EDITORIALS]Some Health Merger Preconditions

Debate over the financial merger of the regional and workplace health insurance schemes is surfacing again. The ruling party and civic groups want it done next January and the opposition party, the Korea Employers Federation and the Korea Medical Association want a separation of the two plans' finances. The Grand National Party has submitted a bill on the separation of accounts, and six labor, management, education and medical organizations have petitioned the National Assembly for such a plan.

There are good and bad points to both the merger and the separation of the plans. Employees who leave their workplace can benefit from the regional umbrella, so it is difficult to see the insurance plans as completely disconnected. There are 8 million people who crisscross the two schemes due to layoffs, job changes or other reasons, so a merger of the two makes sense.

However, there are some decisions that must be made prior to the merger: for example, the balance between the regional and workplace premiums. Salaried and wage-earning employees cannot dodge premium payments based on their easily verifiable income, but the income of only 26 percent of regional insurance policyholders is known. Such a merger may therefore be unfair and unconstitutional discrimination.

The people must also trust the workings of the systems before any merger. Seoul was unable to see even a few months ahead when it loudly declared, "Once the medical reform is implemented, the burden on the people will diminish." If the finances of the workplace insurance are in such a dangerous situation, who will take the responsibility for the financial fiasco resulting from the merger?

The government must devise a plan under which everyone's income is known and appropriate premiums paid; the government measures to be announced at the end of the month should be comprehensive and acceptable to the people. Solve the crisis first, then decide whether financial merger or separate finances is the better course. The government should not exacerbate the crisis by being bound to election pledges.

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