A government panel on Wednesday proposed increasing pay for family doctors and pharmacists under the public health insurance program, in an effort to improve community-based medical services as the population ages.
The emphasis on community hospitals and pharmacies was reflected in the Central Social Insurance Medical Council’s proposal on the fiscal 2016 revision to official medical fees, which was submitted to health minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki.
The advisory council drew up the proposal based on the government’s decision to lower official prices by 0.84 percent. Prices come up for review every two years.
The panel called for including dementia treatment by community hospitals within the public health insurance system, and increasing remuneration for cancer treatment and palliative care at such hospitals.
It also recommended levying surcharges on people who go to major hospitals without a referral from a local doctor. This would affect institutions that are capable of advanced medical care and would start in April.
The special fees, imposed at around 240 hospitals nationwide, would start from ¥3,000 for a first visit to dentists and ¥5,000 for a first visit to other medical practitioners. At least ¥1,500 and ¥2,500 would be charged for revisits to dentists and other physicians, respectively.
Emergency patients would be exempted from the special fees.
The standards on remuneration for pharmacists would also be revised drastically to promote the use of family pharmacies.
Pay would rise for pharmacists who give out drug guidance but fall for services at major chains and pharmacies that only provide prescribed medication.
The medical council also called for lowering the prices of generic drugs. Currently priced at 60 percent of the original drug, prices would fall to 50 percent.