[EDITORIALS]Delay insurance mergerIt seems that the controversy surrounding the integration of two health insurance financial structures will flare up soon again. The opposition Grand National Party submitted a bill last week to the National Assembly, stipulating separate management of both regional and employee health insurance funds. Under current law, the two health funds are scheduled to be merged by July 1. The health and welfare minister, Kim Seong-ho, has confirmed the integration plan. If the government pushes ahead with the integration plan, although conditions for implementation are not ripe, it would create social conflict and confusion.
Although the two health insurance systems were merged in July, 2000, the integration of funds has been delayed twice already. The delays were due to public opinion that imposition of insurance premiums is not fair. While the income of salaried workers is transparent, the same is so for only 29 percent of the self-employed. If insurance funds are merged under such circumstances, workplace employees would worry that they would be at a disadvantage. It is also difficult to streamline premium calculations to be based on income for employees and on earnings, assets and automobiles for regional policy holders.
There is no possibility that the situation will improve by the end of June. In the meantime, various committees were formed to work out effective means of calculating the actual income level of the self-employed, but to no avail. We wonder what the government has been doing. If the government admits that finding out the actual income of the self-employed is impossible and that salaried employees would not be disadvantaged under the present premium calculation system, will people believe it?
With health insurance seen as a social safety net, the function of income redistribution justifies merging the two funds. President-elect Roh Moo-hyun pledged to merge the funds during the campaign. If the income transparency of the self-employed is low and the integrity of voluntary income reporting is questioned, it is a different matter. We should wait for better conditions.