[EDITORIALS]Insuring inequity

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[EDITORIALS]Insuring inequity

When the employees’ health insurance and regional health insurance plans were combined financially in July 2003, the employees’ fund was saddled with the regional health fund’s debts.
The employment insurance’s first surplus, of 850 billion won ($736 million) this year, has to be spent on the 970 billion won that the regional fund lost. Wage-earners must resign themselves to a hike in insurance fees solely because of the regional insurance subscribers.
The government must apologize to the public about the mess this has become.
Last year, when talk of combining the finances of the two funds began, employees raised the issue of the differences in setting premium levels for the two plans. Employed workers pay 4.2 percent of their income to their health fund; for regional health plan users, the payment varies according to income, real estate holdings, automobile ownership and other signs of wealth. The government promised that it would unify the two plans and the payment systems by the end of 2003. Eight months after that deadline, it has still not done so.
The government must stop behaving so irresponsibly in keeping promises.
Only about a third of self-employed people report their income, and it is well known that high-earning professionals deflate the numbers when they do so.
But the tax authorities are able to capture any money that wage and salary earners make. Because of this unfair structure, employees in their health plan have seen an 81 percent increase in their insurance fees since 2001. The premiums of subscribers to the regional health plans have seen increases of only 27 percent. It is astoundingly unjust that ordinary employees have to bear the insurance burden that high-income persons should be paying.
The government must keep its pledge to create a single insurance fee structure for the sake of equity. Before that, the government must focus on finding ways to find out the true incomes of professionals and employees alike. We cannot waste the money from salaried employees to make up the losses in the regional health insurance fund.
If this unfairness persists, we must redivide the employment and regional insurance programs.

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