Health Care Reform in Taiwan and South Korea

A couple of nice articles about health care reform, and frankly national health care, in Taiwan and South Korea. The article about South Korea is rather complicated, and I did not understand all of it. It’s from the American Journal of Public Health.
The article about Taiwan is much easier to understand. Taiwan has more of a single payer system. One of the main beefs that US conservatives have about single payer is that you don’t get to choose your doctor, and the government wastes too much money and won’t spend efficiently.
Actually, it’s the private sector that is inefficient. Taiwanese health care has the lowest administrative costs on Earth, and it’s a single payer system. Medicare also has very low administrative costs, around 2%. So much for “the government wastes money” crap. And in Taiwan, sure you get to choose your doctor. Both systems are quite popular, especially the system in Taiwan.
Both are beginning to run into problems, but that’s inevitable. For an example of the sort of problems Taiwan experienced before national health care, in 1999, 50% of the population had no health care insurance whatsoever. Neoliberals are amazing people – they call that a system that is working perfectly well! They have a curious definition of “working.”
South Korean health care reform actually started in 1977, when the government began requiring companies to cover employees with health insurance. It’s pretty amazing that even this reform is apparently completely off the table in the crazy US.
This is actually closer to the Japanese model. All Japanese are covered, mostly through their work. I believe that the corporations are mandated to cover employees, but they typically covered them anyway, since Japanese corporations have a much more paternalistic attitude than the “Fuck off and die!” attitude that US corporations take towards their employees.
South Korea’s model is called “decentralized” and hence similar to that of France or Germany, but I don’t understand what that means. South Koreans have had problems with cost containment on the supply side as private hospitals, private physicians run up costs unnecessarily. There are also problems with increased outlaw for pharmaceuticals.
I am told that the physicians’ groups, the hospitals, the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies reportedly promised Obama that they would not kill health care reform if he pushed it. He made this deal with them when he was running for President.
All the ranting and raving you hear about health care is coming from independent rightwingers and the Republican Party – the corporations have stayed out of it. That’s possibly why the arguments sound so shrill and insane. If the corporations were running this campaign, they would be a lot slicker about it.
Obviously, this was a quid pro quo. What we need to know is what Obama promised in return. I bet he promised nothing more than a public option and to declare single payer DOA.
63% of Americans still say that if we can’t have a public option, we should not pass any health care bill. That’s down from 73%, so the Republican Lie Machine is working, but not working well enough. On the other hand, an amazing 35% of Americans believe the “death panels” lie. How much you want to bet they are all White.
The US seems to be the only country on Earth where people actually protest against health care. Americans are nuts.

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7 thoughts on “Health Care Reform in Taiwan and South Korea”

  1. Well unfortunately what’s not happening is talk of reigning in costs of medication, medical equipment.. etc…. If we have a public option and private options then that let’s many insurance companies dump the least healthy of their customers onto the US government.
    It looks as if the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies are hard at work with this bill. The tell is that neither group is really working against this health care bill.
    FWIW Richard Nixon in 1974 on Health Care Reform:

  2. Rockefeller and Schumer YOUR FANTASTIC! 🙂
    ATTENTION!! Congress Has The Votes Needed To Pass A Public Option – TODAY
    Why A Strong Public Option Is Essential – By jacksmith – Working Class
    Robert Reich explains the pubic option:
    Hollywood Supports The Public Option 🙂
    It’s not just because more than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 77% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (86% of democrats, 75% of independents, and 72% republicans). Basically everyone.
    It’s not just because according to a new AARP POLL: 86 percent of seniors want universal healthcare security for All, including 93% of Democrats, 87% of Independents, and 78% of Republicans. With 79% of seniors supporting creating a new strong Government-run public option plan, available immediately. Including 89% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 61% of Republicans, STUNNING!!
    It’s not just because it will lower cost. Because a strong public option will dramatically lower cost for everyone. And dramatically improved the quality of care everyone receives in America and around the World. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.
    It’s not just because it will save trillions of dollars and prevent the needless deaths of millions more of YOU, caused by a rush to profit by the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!
    It’s not just because every expert in every field, including economist, and Nobel laureates all agree that free market based healthcare systems don’t work. Never have and never will. The US has the only truly free market based healthcare system in the World. And as you all know now, IT IS A DISASTER!
    It’s not just because providing or denying medically necessary care for profit motivations is wrong. Because it is WRONG! It’s professionally, ethically, and morally REPUGNANT!, Animalistic, VILE and EVIL.
    The public option is ESSENTIAL because over 200 million of you are trapped in the forest of the wolves. Which is the forest of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! With no way out except through needless inhumane suffering, and DEATH. While the wolves tear at your flesh, and rip you limb from lib. Then feast on your lifeless bodies like a dead carcase for transplant parts.
    At the most vulnerable times of your lives (when you were sick and hurting), millions of you have had to fight and loose cruel, but heroic battles. Fighting against the big guns of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! in the forest of the wolves. All because you have no place else to go. You have no other CHOICE!
    But the PUBLIC OPTION will give you someplace safe to go. And it will give us someplace safe to take you. The public option will be your refugium (your refuge). Where the wolves cannot get at you when your down, hurting, and vulnerable. Where everyone who needs it can find rest, security, comfort and the care they need. Protected by the BIG GUNS of We The People Of The United States. THE MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE AND COUNTRY ON EARTH.
    This is why it is so critical that we do not lead another 50 million vulnerable, uninsured Americans into the forest of the wolves, without the protections of a Strong Government-run MEDICARE like public option. We The People Of The United States MUST NOT LET THAT HAPPEN to any more of our fellow Americans. If healthcare reform does not contain a strong MEDICARE like public option on day one. YOU MUST! KILL IT. Or you will do far more harm than good. And millions more will die needlessly. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.
    To those who would continue to obstruct good and true healthcare reform for the American people, and who seek to trap millions more vulnerable Americans in the forest of the wolves. We will continue to fight you. We are prepared to wage all out war against you, and will eagerly DESTROY! you. Time…is…UP! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! No Co-op’s! No Triggers! NO INDIVIDUAL MANDATES! without a Strong MEDICARE like public option on day one.
    Healthcare reform can be the GREATEST! Accomplishment of our time and century. A time when future generations may say of us, that we were all, AMERICAS GREATEST GENERATIONS.
    I therefore call on all my fellow Americans and the peoples of the World. To join us in this fight so that we may finish becoming the better America that we aspire to be for everyone.
    I have been privileged to be witness as many of you fought, and struggled to take your first breath, and your last breath on this earth. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Life is precious.
    Whatever the cost. WE! MUST SUCCEED.
    God Bless You My Fellow Human Beings
    jacksmith – Working Class
    Things You Can Do To Help NOW!
    No Triggers!
    Krugman on heathcare (
    Senator Bernie Sanders on healthcare (
    John Garamendi on the Public Option and the Grassroots:
    Howard Dean on the Public Option
    We’re Number 37! in quality of health care
    Twitter search (#welovethenhs #NHS #hc09 #hcr #healthcar #obama #p2 #topprog #) Check it out.

  3. Well, there might actually be some sense in the ‘death panels’ bit; Obama’s plan – the real one, the one that stands a chance of getting passed – promises savings by rationing existing Medicare and Medicade to help ‘fund’ a system that will do not much more than impose a new tax on EVERYONE which will not guarantee them any health care because they have to pay the first few $k themselves anyway, so they can’t even save the money to buy private help. Obama IS trying to REDUCE health coverage and introduce a new tax to boot. There are plenty of ‘left’ commentators pointing this out. Why do they assume that these so-called ‘right-wingers’, rednecks etc., are too thick to figure it out. They damn well SHOULD be waving guns at this. Note the cries of ‘RACISM’ already from the supposedly ‘liberal’ left, the ‘good cop’, the Democrats, the Nation etc. Who couldn’t see this coming? That’s why they put Obama where he is.

    1. You don’t have to be racist to object to some of Obama’s plans, but racism clearly motivates some of his critics.

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