DP technocrats say welfare pledges may backfire

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DP technocrats say welfare pledges may backfire

A group of Democratic Party technocrats-turned-lawmakers are expressing concern over their party’s promises of broad new welfare programs, including free health care for all.

The DP leadership has recently vowed to institute free school lunches and free health care for the entire population by 2015.

The party also wants to offer free day care for children and half-price college tuitions for some income groups, despite criticism from the government and the ruling Grand National Party, saying the DP is turning more populist to win votes in next year’s presidential and general elections.

While the DP has said its free health care program will cost about 8.1 trillion won ($7.3 billion) annually, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said the cost would be more like 30 trillion won a year.

At a closed-door meeting of the party Thursday, nine lawmakers, including economy and technology ministers from past liberal governments, said the welfare programs will eventually backfire on the party because of their cost. Due to their protests, the party’s leadership failed last week to make the free day-care program an official party pledge.

Most of the lawmakers who voiced concerns were former technocrats and policy makers from the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations.

Representative Kim Hyo-seuk, a three-term lawmaker who used to be a business management professor, criticized the welfare programs in a post on his Web site.

“There are no freebies in the world, and there is a limit for financial resources,” he wrote. “We must present how to finance our policies. When the Democratic Party leans left, its ties with progressive voters may be strengthened, but it may lose the center. There could be more to lose than gain.”

Representative Kang Bong-kyun, who was finance and economy minister in the Kim administration, said in a radio interview that making a series of unfeasible promises won’t help the party win public support.

Representative Kim Young-hwan, former science and technology minister from 2001 to 2002, said the DP needs to approach the welfare issue more carefully.

“It is right that we must expand welfare benefits, but we need to meticulously plan how to finance the programs,” he said.

He also wrote in a post on his Web site that the Democrats must “give up the strategy of trying to win votes at all costs. We must give up the sense of urgency to win the people’s heart at once. People already have the wisdom to differentiate the real from the fake.”

Despite the lawmakers’ concerns, the DP leadership has no intention to step back from promoting its welfare programs.

“We will present a more specific roadmap with ways to finance the free welfare policies,” said the DP’s chief policy maker Jun Byung-hun.

By Ser Myo-ja, Shin Yong-ho [myoja@joongang.co.kr]


Related Korean Article [중앙일보]

8조 vs 30조 무상의료 드는 세금, 누구 말이 맞나
복지부 추정 … 의료비 부담 줄면 병원 더 찾아 “최고 연간 54조원까지 들 수도”
민주당 반박 … 한 해 의료비 미리 정해 두면 병원 이용 증가 관리할 수 있어

8조1000억원 대 30조원.

민주당이 내놓은 무상의료 방안을 시행하려면 필요한 돈이 이렇게 차이가 난다. 민주당은 연간 8조1000억원, 보건복지부는 연간 30조원으로 추정한다. 복지부는 54조원까지 늘어날 수도 있다고 주장한다. 무상의료가 시행될 경우 국민 세금이나 보험료 부담에 큰 차이가 생긴다. 시각차의 이유는 환자의 의료비 부담을 낮추면 의료 이용이 늘어나기 마련인데 이를 두고 해석이 다르기 때문이다. 복지부는 민주당 안대로 입원 환자의 병원비 부담을 38.3%에서 10%로 낮추고, 연간 환자 부담을 100만원으로 제한하면 의료 서비스 이용이 급증할 것으로 본다. 한 번 갈 병원을 두 번 가고, 돈 때문에 망설이던 컴퓨터단층촬영(CT) 등의 검사 이용도 많아질 수 있다는 것이다.

복지부는 세 가지의 의료 증가량 추정치를 제시했다. 한 해에 적게는 15조원, 중간은 30조원, 많게는 54조원이 늘어난다. 진수희 복지부 장관은 이 가운데 중간인 30조원을 택해 13일 공개했다. 미국 보건경제학자(로젯&황, 1973)의 모형을 활용해 산출했다. 복지부는 “의료비 부담(가격)이 1% 줄면 의료 이용량(수요)이 1.5% 늘어나는 가격탄력성을 적용해 30조원을 산출했다”고 설명했다. 30조원은 지난해 건강보험 지출(33조원)과 거의 같다. 진 장관은 “30조원을 조달하려면 보험료와 국고지원을 두 배로 올려야 할 것으로 추정된다”고 말했다. 그럴 경우 보험료는 월 소득의 5.64%에서 11% 이상으로 뛴다. 올해 직장인의 월 평균 보험료가 16만원(절반은 회사 부담)인데 이만한 돈을 더 내야 한다는 것이다. 건강보험에 대한 국고(세금) 지원액도 올해 약 5조9000억원에서 12조원 가량으로 늘어난다.

복지부의 추정이 맞을지는 불확실하다. 하지만 병원 문턱이 낮아질 것은 …

http://news.joins.com/article/614/4929614.html?ctg=

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