Panel sees no cause for hiking medical service fees paid to hospitals

JIJI

An advisory panel to the finance minister said it is not necessary to raise medical service fees paid to hospitals and other medical institutions in fiscal 2014.

Members of a subcommittee of the Fiscal System Council on Monday pointed out that medical service fees have continued rising even amid deflation. They also criticized medical institutions’ lack of effort to streamline operations.

Their discussions centered on how to reduce social security and other costs ahead of the compilation of the government’s budget for fiscal 2014, which starts next April.

In fiscal 2013, total medical costs are estimated to reach ¥42 trillion.

If medical service fees are raised by 1 percent in fiscal 2014, the costs borne by patients and the state will go up by ¥420 billion.

At the day’s meeting, representatives from the Finance Ministry claimed that it is necessary to reduce the number of hospital beds for patients who need emergency treatment and to lower drug prices, to help improve operational efficiency at medical institutions.

Many members of the subcommittee said it will be difficult to gain people’s acceptance of a hike in medical service fees.

Social security costs are increasing by about ¥1 trillion every year due to the aging population.