The diagnosis of healthcare policy problems in Korea
Journal of the Korean Medical Association
Journal of the Korean Medical Association, Vol.55(10) : 932~939, 2012
The definition of a policy problem is important in all stages of the policy processes, and especially in presidential election seasons, which usually open the political window. We propose priorities among the policy problems of Korean healthcare by the positioning approach, which compares Korea with Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries using OECD health data. The range of positioning is 1 to -1 where 1 is the best or highest level among OECD countries, 0 is the average level, and -1 is the worst or lowest level. The positioning results show that the overall health status of Korea is good (positioning=0.34), but the suicide rate (-1.00) is a major problem. Healthcare human resources are scarce (-0.46), but rapidly increasing. Hospital beds and medical equipments are over-supplied (respectively 0.37, 0.33), but medical equipments that are utilized mainly in tertiary hospitals are below average. The utilization of healthcare is at the top level in doctors' consultations (0.97) and average length of stay (0.65). The quality of in-patient care is good (0.35), but quality of out-patient care is poor (-0.36). Healthcare costs are low (-0.73), but their growth rate is high. Among healthcare costs, the policy problems are large pharmaceutical expenditures and many households with catastrophic expenditures. This study determined the priorities of healthcare policy problems in Korea. The next step is to search for the factors that influence these policy problems and develop their solutions.