EDITORIAL: Govt Acted Reasonably in Cutting Medical Treatment Fees for FY14

The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan), December 22, 2013 | Go to article overview

EDITORIAL: Govt Acted Reasonably in Cutting Medical Treatment Fees for FY14


To maintain the social security system, it is indispensable to hold down medical expenses, which have continued to increase.

The government has thus decided to substantially decrease medical treatment fees, which go to medical institutions as income, by 1.26 percent for next fiscal year. This is the first reduction of such costs in six years.

When medical treatment costs increase, health insurance premiums and payments at medical institutions also rise. When coupled with next spring's increase in the consumption tax rate, the increases in medical treatment costs will put a double strain on household finances.

Although the extent of the cut is not sufficient, we believe the government has acted reasonably in having settled the matter by substantially decreasing the medical treatment fees. The cut will likely curb negative effects on spending and business sentiment.

In terms of the medical fee structure, the main portion that includes a doctor's technical fee was raised by 0.1 percent, while the "charge for medicine" category was lowered by 1.36 percent. The latter move reflected the actual trading prices of medicine.

Private hospitals last year posted a 76 million yen surplus on average, up from the previous year. Salaries of doctors working at hospitals have also increased. The government must have judged that it is increasingly unnecessary to raise medical treatment fees.

However, costs including the fee charged for a patient's first visit were raised to supplement the greater financial burden medical institutions are expected to face due to the scheduled increase in the consumption tax rate. As a result, the medical treatment fee was raised by 0.1 percent in this main category, which should be considered inevitable.

Various efforts needed

The Liberal Democratic Party proposed increasing the medical treatment fees at the request of parties concerned, including the Japan Medical Association, which has called for improving labor conditions of doctors and mitigating the shortage of doctors. …

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