Civic activists assessed the health and medical campaign promises of four major presidential candidates, and the score worsened when one candidate leaned to the right.
The Korean Federation of Medical Activist Group for Health Rights divided the health care pledges of the top four runners into four areas: strengthening public health care to respond to infectious disease health care services, expand insurance coverage, stop for-profit health care and community health services. He then assessed their campaign promises in 16 categories.
The assessment was also based on the candidates’ responses to questions from the Voter Networks to End Inequality, from the headquarters of the movement to block the privatization of health care and achieve free health services, and the candidates’ comments to the presidency on the media.
As a result, Shim Sang-jeong, the Justice Party (JP) candidate, recorded the highest score of 89, followed by Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (PDK) with 43, Ahn Cheol -soo from the breakaway opposition People’s Party (PP) with 23 and Yoon Suk-yeol from the People’s Power Party (PPP) with 17. Coincidentally or not, the scores turned out to be proportional to the candidates’ progressive leanings.
Shim scored high marks for presenting detailed plans to bolster health services, replenish medical staff and stop medical commercialization.
The left-wing candidate has promised to create a public hospital to deal with infectious diseases and to legalize the exemption from preliminary feasibility studies for public hospitals. In addition, to replenish the medical staff, she pledged to stipulate an optimal number of nurses by law, establish a public medical school and increase the number of doctors providing essential treatment by introducing a duty system mandatory in public medical establishments.
Shim also pledged to end medical commercialization by opposing for-profit hospitals or for-profit subsidiaries of existing hospitals, regulating private health insurance, and capping it at 1 million won (830 $) annual medical expenses per person, offering a free medical system.
However, the federation subtracted points for Shim’s promises to expand public hospitals and expand insurance benefits by raising insurance costs.
“The commitment to securing a public hospital in 70 mid-level medical spheres is nothing more than the establishment of just one more public hospital in provinces with many vulnerable areas, such as Gangwon, South Chungcheong, North Chungcheong and North Gyeongsang,” he said. “Also, the expansion of insurance coverage expansion is a good goal, but we have doubts about the adequacy of his method, his strategy of increasing insurance costs to achieve the goal. “
DPK’s Lee could reform public health care but commercialize medical services
the centre-left DPK candidate, was the runner-up, receiving a favorable rating for pledging to replenish public hospital beds but getting points deducted for pushing medical commercialization.
Although Lee pledged to replenish public hospital beds, the group said he stopped short of presenting detailed ideas, such as exempting public hospitals from the preliminary feasibility study.
He also pointed out that Lee introduced a regional nursing system and the enactment of a nursing law, his plan could backfire. Additionally, Lee did not present specific data for establishing public medical schools and increasing enrollment data for existing schools, and there was no promise to require graduates to work. in public hospitals, underlined the federation.
In health insurance coverage, Lee proposed expanding subsidies for disaster medical expenses and turning some uninsured items into insured items, the group said. However, it showed limitations by failing to present a target coverage rate and a cap on maximum medical expenses, he added.
The federation called Lee a “worrying candidate” as he pushes for the commercialization of the medical service.
Lee opposed the creation of for-profit hospitals but accepted for-profit subsidiaries of existing hospitals. In addition, he promised to simplify the procedures for claiming indemnity insurance, reinvigorate deregulation, facilitate the evaluation of new medical technologies, deregulate the use of private medical information and revitalize telemedicine.
“Lee’s deregulation platform threatens patient lives and safety for corporate profit,” the federation said. “In general, he made promises of reform, but that was not enough. He’s the ominous candidate who put medical commercialization ahead of other things.
Ahn intends to expand public hospitals and medical staff but lacks details
Candidate Ahn also received an unfavorable review, described as a candidate who will replenish the medical staff but lacks details to put it into action. Additionally, Ahn’s deal on deregulation of the biotech industry also marked his scores.
Ahn expressed his desire to guarantee a public hospital in every medium-sized medical sphere. However, the federation said Ahn’s intention was unclear as he attached a precondition to the replenishment of medical staff.
“In restocking doctors and nurses, candidate Ahn pledged to do so gradually through consultation with professional groups, but it would go nowhere in reality,” he said.
The centre-right candidate’s pledge to cover 90% of mental health treatment, scrap support for medical benefits, create half-price public postnatal care centers and expand nursing and care services received positive ratings.
However, the reviewer pointed out that Ahn supports for-profit hospitals and negative deregulation and places too much emphasis on promoting the biotech industry, clearly signaling his intention to commercialize the healthcare industry.
Yoon placed bottom for showing no intention of expanding health services
Right-wing PPP’s Yoon scored lowest by not promising to expand public hospitals while expressing plans to expand the private medical market.
“Candidate Yoon said he would solve the problems by increasing the number of beds and financial rewards for private hospitals,” the federation said. “However, as everyone has seen in the Covid-19 pandemic, the nation cannot respond to the infectious disease catastrophe with private hospitals.”
Additionally, Yoon’s pledge to turn over the public health service to private hospitals to address the regional medical imbalance and shortage of essential care was also poorly rated. They might even worsen the already poor treatment of the vulnerable classes, undermining the public character of the medical service.
The group noted that Yoon had made positive promises, such as expanding support for disaster medical expenses, expanding Korea’s version of sickness and accident compensation, introducing the family doctor, integration of nursing and care services and cost coverage in care hospitals. However, he pointed out that the Conservative candidate would push to commercialize health services by supporting for-profit hospitals and developing telemedicine.
“Candidate Yoon all but accepts for-profit hospitals, the expansion of telemedicine pilot programs and negative deregulation,” the federation said. “Given these policies, candidate Yoon is seen as a candidate who takes away the public nature of medical services and further threatens the lives and health of the public in the age of the pandemic.”