&#91EDITORIALS&#93Combining health plans

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[EDITORIALS]Combining health plans

The finances of the two national health insurance systems, one for company employees and the other for the self-employed and those not covered by the company program, are likely to be fully consolidated on July 1 as planned. But a bill drawn up by the opposition Grand National Party, which asked for a delay of this financial fusion for two years, did not pass the Health and Welfare Committee of the National Assembly.
The financial melding of the two plans should happen only after adequate preparation. But now that the consolidation looms, the government should take several steps.
First, it must work to assuage the concerns of salaried workers. While the government is able to track the incomes of only 34 percent of the self-employed, incomes of salaried workers are 100 percent transparent to tax authorities. Salaried workers are right to be concerned that they might have to shoulder the burden of regional insurance policyholders, who generally are in a lower income bracket than those in the other categories. There are actually many cases where self-employed workers and professionals, such as lawyers and physicians, who earn a lot more than the average salaried worker, pay less in health insurance fees. And even for the 34 percent of the self-employed workers whose incomes are known, there is no guarantee that the information is correct.
Second, we need a unified system of imposing insurance fees. Insured workers on company plans pay fees based on their income; those not on a company plan pay based on their income, automobiles and other assets.
Since the organizational consolidation of the two insurance schemes in July 2000, the number of employees at the National Health Insurance Corp. has exceeded 10,000. The government must seek ways to efficiently manage this obesity.
The current health insurance system does not cover most serious illnesses. That is why the system is criticized as inadequate. The government must do its best to improve efficiency in the management and financing of the nation’s health insurance system.

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