Journal article

Future of Japan's system of good health at low cost with equity: beyond universal coverage

Shibuya K, Hashimoto H, Ikegami N, Nishi A, Tanimoto T, Miyata H, Takemi K, Reich M ...see all

The Lancet, vol. 378, issue 9798 (1) pp. 1265-1273

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Abstract

Summary Japan's premier health accomplishment in the past 50 years has been the achievement of good population health at low cost and increased equity between different population groups. The development of Japan's policies for universal coverage are similar to the policy debates that many countries are having in their own contexts. The financial sustainability of Japan's universal coverage is under threat from demographic, economic, and political factors. Furthermore, a series of crises—both natural and nuclear—after the magnitude 9·0 Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, has shaken up the entire Japanese social system that was developed and built after World War 2, and shown existing structural problems in the Japanese health system. Here, we propose four major reforms to assure the sustainability and equity of Japan's health accomplishments in the past 50 years—implement a human-security value-based reform; redefine the role of the central and local governments; improve the quality of health care; and commit to global health. Now is the time for rebirth of Japan and its health system.

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Authors

  • Kenji Shibuya

  • Hideki Hashimoto

  • Naoki Ikegami

  • Akihiro Nishi

  • Tetsuya Tanimoto

  • Hiroaki Miyata

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