KIHASA in the News

Dr. Shin Young-Seok of KIHASA Suggests 'Hospitals without Uncovered Services' as Pilot Project

  • Media Date : 2021-08-27
  • News Media : Medical Times
  • Hits 166

Translated from a Medical Times article, August 27, 2021

Where should health policy focus in the next 5 or 10 years?

The Ministry of Health and Welfare held on August 26 the 18th meeting of the User-centered Healthcare Innovation Consultative Committee to review mid- to long-term health policies.

At this meeting, Dr. Shin Young-Seok of the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs gave a presentation on ‘the future direction of Korea’s healthcare policy,’ drawing attention from healthcare user groups with his rather innovative idea.

Dr. Shin is of the opinion that ‘health system’ should be brought back to the discussion table, which has been neglected in recent years as Korea’s health policy debate has focused on insurance coverage expansion; The core of his argument about health system is establishing a so-called ‘local integrated or independent health system,’ which he believes will make it possible to meet essential health needs in localities in a self-sufficient manner. This may also deal with the concerns about how to retain quality doctors and nurses in localities, he said. In particular, his idea of ‘hospitals without uncovered services’ has drawn considerable attention from healthcare user groups.

As the insurance coverage in essential healthcare services has been expanded to a considerable degree by the Moon Jae-in administration, Dr. Shin believes that his idea of ‘hospitals without uncovered services’ can be implemented as a pilot project in public hospitals first.

He also brought forth an unconventional alternative to private indemnity health insurance plans which he thinks are holding back the expansion of the national health insurance coverage. His idea is to let the public sector provide supplemental health insurance plans as private health insurance plans do; in other words, letting the government compete with private insurers by launching supplemental health plans. “Recently, private insurers are expanding into social care and rehabilitation, raising concerns that the public’s cost burden will increase in the future,” says Dr. Shin, adding that if the government sells supplemental health plans, the public will be able to enjoy greater benefits with a smaller premium than they would pay with private insurers.

Another participant at the meeting pointed out the need to reform Korea’s health care payment system with a view to reducing unnecessary medical expenses and improving the quality of care in order to contain the country’s medical spending as a percentage of GDP. Also, some participants suggested that measures are needed to improve the quality of care and medical services at nursing homes and nursing hospitals. There were also discussions on the need to raise the quality of healthcare services by expanding the healthcare workforce and rationalizing the scope of their work, and on the need to reform the evaluation system for a practical evaluation of the quality and performance of healthcare services.

“We need to reorganize the systems, the compensation structure, and the evaluation system to improve the quality of healthcare services and people’s health outcomes. We will work on a range of health care issues from a mid-to long-term perspective to make systematic improvement,” said Lee Chang-joon, head of the bureau of healthcare policy, the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare will continue to discuss the mid-to long-term policy direction at the next User-centered Healthcare Innovation Consultative Committee meeting.

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