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A government plan to save on medical costs by reducing the number of hospital beds dedicated to long-term convalescence is causing anxiety for patients and their families. If the health ministry carries out the plan carelessly, it could lead to the loss of people’s trust in the nation’s medical system.

As of December 2005, there were about 230,000 hospital beds for long-term convalescence covered by national health insurance and about 150,000 others covered by nursing care insurance. The ministry plans to slash the former to about 150,000 by fiscal 2012 and eliminate the latter by fiscal 2011. This is expected to save about ¥300 billion in medical costs.

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