Journal of the Korean Medical Association, Vol.55(11) : 1040~1042, 2012
The new presidential administration of the Republic of Korea will be launched in February 2013. We hope that the Government effectively administers national affairs as well as health care affairs under the new paradigm. In this paper, I make three proposals for the new administration. First, the new government must overcome the wave of aging, the low birth rate, and low economic growth rate. The aging society increases health care demands, but the low birth rate and low economic growth rate decrease the capability to financially underwrite these demands. Furthermore, Korea faces the unification issue as the mission of the era. The economic burden of unification would be bigger than that faced by Germany. The government must prepare rapidly with a step-by-step plan for this approaching situation. Second, the new administration must solve the top-priority policy problems that are derived not only from the existing problems of the "garbage can model," but also from priority setting with an overall and systematic view. These top-priority health policy problems are the high suicide rate, over-utilization of doctors' visits and length of hospital stay, and high out-of-pocket health care fees. The extreme phenomenon of high out-of-pocket costs affects a high percentage of households with catastrophic medical costs, which is about 3%, the highest level among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries. Third, the policy approach of the new administration must be not unilateral, but bilateral: efficiency and equity of policies, support and regulation of policy tool, demand-side and supply-side management of healthcare utilization, and service benefits and monetary benefits of Health Insurance. In the past, the main approach of healthcare policy has depended on regulation, supply-side control, and service benefits. The administration should pursue a balance of left and right approaches, regardless of which political party wins. I hope that the new government will overcome these challenges in a turbulent era, solve top-priority problems first, and approach all of this with a new paradigm as new wine must be poured into new wineskins.