Week 9: 人口減少 (Population Decline)


Another recent trend in Japanese society that will change healthcare is the population decline. This paper discusses several implications that come with the continued use of a low-expenditure healthcare system in a country experiencing a fairly steep population decline. According to the paper, there will have to be a 9-14% increase in taxpayer funding for the healthcare system by 2050 in order to compensate for the lower number of workers and accommodate the higher elderly population. Unfortunately, the potential reform policies, such as an increased consumption tax (which, after this was published, is starting to happen with Abenomics) and lower co-pays for some individuals, are not proving to be exceptionally popular to people over 35. This is disheartening, but something does need to be done about this, especially because the impact of Japan’s inverse population pyramid is so great.

This week’s vocabulary:

国民健康保険 (こくみんけんこうほけん): government-mandated health insurance
America has recently introduced a government-mandated health insurance system.

人口減少 (じんこうげんしょう): population decline
As Japan’s population decline increases, so, too, will the price on things like health insurance.

免責額 (めんせきがく): deductible
I had a car accident. But, because my insurance deductible is high, I’m fine.

自由診療 (じゆうしんりょう): treatment not covered by insurance
Drugs you buy at the pharmacy are one example of treatment not covered by insurance.

薬価 (やっか): drug price (under government-mandated health insurance)
The price of brand-name drugs is high, so please be judicious in prescribing them.

This is another political topic, but one that raises a point of contention. Indeed, the low-cost healthcare in Japan has been good and sustainable for quite some time, but I really do think there are quite a few changes that could be done. I knew the aging population could be a big factor, but the amount of labor tax needed to compensate is certainly high. This, as well as the low spending on healthcare anyway, provides a good reason as to why Abenomics is transforming the healthcare system in Japan. I still, however, have not looked much at the cultural factors behind how Japan views health, so that will be next week’s topic.

Other sources on the subject:


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