Medical Doctors in Japan and Taiwan

I found the film “Sick all over the World” to be extremely interesting. It not only taught me about other nations health care systems, but also more about our own system. TR Reid did an excellent job analyzing each system and interviewing medical professionals and experts to compare the US to countries around the world. It was quite surprising to me that most people pay little to nothing for health care, and that it is offered to every citizen, regardless of health conditions, employment, or social status.

Even though in the UK citizens pay absolutely nothing for health care during their life span, which starkly contrasts the US, I found Japan and Taiwan to be most different from us. First of all, every person is required to pay for an insurance program. It is based on income, and those who are unemployed pay into a social health care system. Almost everything is covered, and medical costs for procedure are extremely low. Essentially, the rich pay for the poor and the healthy pay for the sick. It is a very socialist system, very different from our strong market health care system. The cost is extremely low, however, at around 6% of the GDP, significantly lower than the US 17%.

Another huge difference is that there is only one insurance company and it does not make a profit. Costs are kept low, and if premiums are not met for the year, they carry over to the next. One of the main reasons these costs can be so low, is that the government and the insurance companies regulate the cost of every single procedure and drug on the market so that a doctor or hospital cannot increase their prices to gain more revenue. This creates another large difference from the US in that doctors do not have a huge income. They do not have the high social status that they do in America. Also, most citizens are very happy with the system, it is cheap, and effective with no wait times, and no gate keepers to see specialists. Patients are more informed and more in charge of their own health, and they like it that way.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Vu Ho says:

    As I was born in Japan, the way of how the doctor run was quite different. Well from what I experienced and what I heard that there were many time that my parent also complained about why does visiting for the doctor’s appointment were not only time consuming but also very expensive. I did remembered that the doctor’s visit was quite quick but also very effective. As a result I find it very effective in taking care of the health of the Japanese population. Aside from the mentioning of Japanese hospitals not earning enough money to prevent from going into debt, the solution of giving a small raise in cost in the medical cost could help balance out the cost of the hospital. Though I understand that developing and discovering new medicine or a more effective cure can costs lots of money, but some medication or surgery seems to be too expensive. I know that one of my cousin surgery cost over half a million dollars in California. I find that regulation of the medical supply should be done to prevent an astronomical pricing and give fairer pricing.
    But what also makes the Japanese system of running the hospital successful are not from the regulation itself, but also how the Japanese take care of their basic health. One thing worth mentioning is that obesity are not very high in Japan, therefore cardiovascular disease are lower compared to United States. If an individual can be responsible of their health a bit more could result to lower health insurance.
    The documentary did question about why the United States does not follow the example of other country hospital system. What I think is the idea just regulating the hospital and their cost will not fix the problem of the high medical cost. It will be lots of thing that needed to be changed. So if I were to choose the hospital system of Japanese vs. the United States I would choose the Japanese way of how the hospital run.

  2. Meredith Joseph says:

    I found this to be the most interesting piece of information that we were given this week. Seeing the different forms of health care was very eye opening and shocking. The Japan health care system seems to be better than the U.S health system, but I still think it faces several issues. Coming from my American point of view I do not think it is far for the healthy to pay for the sick or the rich to pay for the poor, everyone should get free health care like the UK. The Japan system of having no gatekeepers to get a doctors appointment with any one, even a specialist is a huge advantage. Also the fact that there is only one insurance company and they cannot make a profit makes for a more far opportunity for everyone to have health care at the same price. I found it a little odd that some check ups only were five minuets long, it seemed pointless to me, but that is how things are done there. The Japanese people seem to be pleased with their health care system, much more than Americans that is for sure. If America was to take away something from the Japanese health system I think the main aspect would have to be having no gatekeeper, instant medical attention would be ideal.

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