All Japan Program Multimedia

Japan’s Public Universal Health Insurance System Reform: Lessons for Achieving and Maintaining Universal Health Care Coverage

  • Byung Kwang Yoo

The global health community has been aiming at ensuring health coverage for all. To achieve universal health care coverage, the German Social Health Insurance model is one solution. However, one major disadvantage of Social Health Insurance is the fragmented insurance plans, exemplified by 3,500 insurance plans in Japan’s public universal health insurance system. To improve the financial sustainability of Japan’s public universal health insurance, policy options include consolidating fragmented plans as already implemented in Germany and South Korea.

This presentation has two major goals. One is to evaluate the optimal health insurance size in consolidating 3,500 insurance plans in Japan through a simulation analysis using the best available micro data in Japan. The other goal is to discuss the global policy implications based on the experiences of Japan's public universal health insurance.

Dr. Byung-Kwang Yoo is an associate professor in health policy in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the UC Davis School of Medicine. Yoo’s unique career includes clinical medicine (MD) in Japan and research experience as a health services researcher/health economist in the United States. He obtained an MS in health policy and management from Harvard University, and a PhD in health policy and management (concentration on health economics) from Johns Hopkins University. Yoo used to work as a research associate at the Center for Health Policy at Stanford University, as a health economist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and as an assistant professor in the Division of Health Policy at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York State. He has published his work in leading journals such as Lancet, Health Economics, Health Services Research, the American Journal of Public Health, and the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.