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Health systems in East Asia: what can developing countries learn from Japan and the Asian Tigers?

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  • Adam Wagstaff

    (The World Bank, Washington, DC, USA)

Abstract

The health systems of Japan and the Asian Tigers (Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan), and the recent reforms to them, provide many potentially valuable lessons to East Asia's developing countries. All five systems have managed to keep a check on health spending despite their different approaches to financing and delivery. These differences are reflected in the progressivity of health finance, but the precise degree of progressivity of individual sources and the extent to which households are vulnerable to catastrophic health payments depend on the design features of the system - the height of any ceilings on social insurance contributions, the fraction of health spending covered by the benefit package, the extent to which the poor face reduced copayments, whether there are caps on copayments, and so on. On the delivery side, too, Japan and the Tigers offer some interesting lessons. Singapore's experience with corporatizing public hospitals - rapid cost and price inflation, a race for the best technology, and so on - illustrates the difficulties of corporatization. Korea's experience with a narrow benefit package illustrates the danger of providers shifting demand from insured services with regulated prices to uninsured services with unregulated prices. Japan, in its approach to rate setting for insured services, has managed to combine careful cost control with fine-tuning of profit margins on different types of care. Experiences with DRGs in Korea and Taiwan point to cost-savings but also to possible knock-on effects on service volume and total health spending. Korea and Taiwan both offer important lessons for the separation of prescribing and dispensing, including the risks of compensation costs outweighing the cost savings caused by more 'rational' prescribing, and cost-savings never being realized because of other concessions to providers, such as allowing them to have onsite pharmacists. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 16 (2007)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
Pages: 441-456

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Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:16:y:2007:i:5:p:441-456

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Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749

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References

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  1. Leung, Gabriel M. & O.L. Wong, Irene & Chan, Wai-Sum & Choi, Sarah & Lo, Su-Vui, 2005. "The ecology of health care in Hong Kong," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 577-590, August.
  2. Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy & Paci, Pierella, 1989. "Equity in the Finance and Delivery of Health Care: Some Tentative Cross-country Comparisons," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 89-112, Spring.
  3. O'Donnell, Owen & van Doorslaer, Eddy & Rannan-Eliya, Ravi P. & Somanathan, Aparnaa & Adhikari, Shiva Raj & Akkazieva, Baktygul & Harbianto, Deni & Garg, Charu C. & Hanvoravongchai, Piya & Herrin, Ale, 2008. "Who pays for health care in Asia?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 460-475, March.
  4. Lim, Meng-Kin, 2004. "Shifting the burden of health care finance: a case study of public-private partnership in Singapore," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 83-92, July.
  5. Eddy van Doorslaer & Cristina Masseria, 2004. "Income-Related Inequality in the Use of Medical Care in 21 OECD Countries," OECD Health Working Papers 14, OECD Publishing.
  6. Chou, Shin-Yi & Liu, Jin-Tan & Hammitt, James K., 2003. "National Health Insurance and precautionary saving: evidence from Taiwan," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 1873-1894, September.
  7. Yutaka Imai, 2002. "Health Care Reform in Japan," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 321, OECD Publishing.
  8. Kakwani, Nanok C, 1977. "Measurement of Tax Progressivity: An International Comparison," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(345), pages 71-80, March.
  9. Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy & van der Burg, Hattem & Calonge, Samuel & Christiansen, Terkel & Citoni, Guido & Gerdtham, Ulf-G & Gerfin, Mike & Gross, Lorna & Hakinnen, Unto, 1999. "Equity in the finance of health care: some further international comparisons1," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 263-290, June.
  10. Kwon, Soonman, 2003. "Pharmaceutical reform and physician strikes in Korea: separation of drug prescribing and dispensing," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 529-538, August.
  11. Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 1992. "Equity in the finance of health care: Some international comparisons," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 361-387, December.
  12. Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 1997. "Progressivity, horizontal equity and reranking in health care finance: a decomposition analysis for the Netherlands," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(5), pages 499-516, October.
  13. Lu, Jui-fen R. & Leung, Gabriel M. & Kwon, Soonman & Tin, Keith Y.K. & Van Doorslaer, Eddy & O'Donnell, Owen, 2007. "Horizontal equity in health care utilization evidence from three high-income Asian economies," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 199-212, January.
  14. Okamura, Shinichi & Kobayashi, Ryota & Sakamaki, Tetsuo, 2005. "Case-mix payment in Japanese medical care," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 282-286, November.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Meliyanni Johar, 2007. "The Impact of the Indonesian Health Card Program: A Matching Estimator Approach," Discussion Papers 2007-30, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
  2. Wagstaff, Adam, 2007. "Social health insurance reexamined," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4111, The World Bank.
  3. Abdul Karim, Syahirah & Eikemo, Terje A. & Bambra, Clare, 2010. "Welfare state regimes and population health: Integrating the East Asian welfare states," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 45-53, January.
  4. Peter S. Heller, 2006. "Is Asia Prepared for An Aging Population?," IMF Working Papers 06/272, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Makoto Kakinaka & Ryuta Kato, 2013. "Regulated medical fee schedule of the Japanese health care system," International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 301-317, December.
  6. David Bardey & Ramón Castaño, 2007. "La regulación de tarifas en el sector de la salud en Colombia," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 9(17), pages 347-357, July-Dece.

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