Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why Make Life Worse for High Risk People

I feel that in the United States there is a general tendency to be more nervous about the government trying to "help" with health care support than one really needs to be, and those of us living outside the United States in countries with government-supported health care plans which are really helpful do have some insight into how useful such programs can be.

I retired a few years ago, and am now receiving a state pension from Austria as my main source of support - after having paid into the system for more than 30 years. (The minimum for receiving an Austrian state pension is 15 years - which I exceeded by more than a factor of 2.)
The Austrian state pension is very generous if compared to some countries like the United States, but I presume that you also pay much more into it during your working years.. (This is basically a good idea, I think.)
Being retired and receiving an Austrian state pension, if I were to be living in Austria (including perhaps certain other EU countries as well), I would still be eligible to be participating in the Austrian National Health Insurance.. But, living in Japan now more than in Austria I am not currently eligible to be in the Austrian National Health Insurance program. I am eligible however for the Japanese National Health Insurance program, which I have joined.

The impression I have is that with the National Health Insurance plans,
"everybody" is eligible, irregardless of whether you have the "bad luck" of falling into a high-risk group or not. But, when there is no National Health insurance program, and you must get health insurance from a "private" group, or have none at all, these companies may well discriminate against high-risk people, and they may be left "out in the cold". These people are in an "unlucky situation" anyway, and to make the situation for them even harder, that is something one should want to avoid somehow, if possible. By including a substantial fraction of the entire population of the country in a National Health insurance program of some kind, one can spread the risks over a very large number of people, so that individual people do not need to be "singled out" for difficult situations.
This is even more true in countries with large populations like the United States.

Jim McNaughton

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


You are correct. The Japanese system is mandatory, so you are legally obligated to join (and have the premiums withheld from your salary, for example) so it sounds coercive, but on the other hand, NO ONE will be refused from joining the system (as long as you're in Japan legally). You could literally be the sickest person in the world and if you were in Japan legally, you would not be denied coverage.

And since it costs less than coverage in the US anyway, I don't find that too high of a price to pay.