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Japan’s government urged to cut doctor fees and drug costs

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Staff writer ▼ | November 25, 2015
Japan old people
Ageing society   Social security-related expenses in Japan

A Finance Ministry panel urged the government of Japan to limit increases in social security expenses in fiscal 2016 as the state tries to rein in the costs of a ageing society.

“We’d like to call for limiting the increase for the ‘graying factor’ to a little less than ¥500 billion ($4.07 billion)” from the previous year, it said in a set of recommendations handed to Finance Minister Taro Aso.

Social security-related expenses account for the largest slice of a budget request for the fiscal year starting April 1. The health ministry is asking for an increase of ¥670 billion in medical and other spending on top of an overall request of ¥30.67 trillion.

To curb expenditure, the panel called for a review of medical service fees and pharmaceutical costs.

The panel said fees for doctor services need to be lowered in addition to drug prices. A cut in the fees would be the first in 10 years.

A 1 percent cut in the official medical service fees would push down the country’s annual medical costs by ¥430 billion.

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