Korean cancer patient to save family from medical costs kills himself; The Park administration had earlier promised to fully cover medical expenses for four terminal diseases including cancer

2013-09-27 16:55

Cancer patient to save family from medical costs kills himself

By Chung Hyun-chae
A 71-year-old man suffering with cancer took his own life in the port city of Busan on Thursday, apparently to relieve his family of financial pressure, police said Friday. The man surnamed Kim was diagnosed with liver cancer earlier this month, and was scheduled to undergo surgery on Saturday. He was to enter hospital on Friday. Kim’s son, 38, discovered the body of his father who hanged himself from a gas pipe in his studio apartment. A suicide note was found taped to the victim’s chest. “Please forgive me. If I undergo a surgery, it would pose a financial burden on all of you. Even though it is a pittance, please keep the 130,000 won in my purse and what’s left in my bank account,” the note read. “It appears he took his own life in order to not impose a financial burden on his children,” said a police officer. Kim lost his wife about 10 years ago and lived alone. Along with his son he leaves behind a 40 year old daughter.2013-09-26 17:08

Elderly disappointed at pension trimming

By Nam Hyun-woo
Most elderly people expressed disappointment at the government’s scaled-back pension program, and civic groups are denouncing President Park Geun-hye for failing to keep her campaign promise.
The government announced Thursday that it will provide up to 200,000 won ($186) every month starting next July for senior citizens aged 65 and older, and who are also in the bottom 70 percent of the income bracket.
During her presidential campaign last year, Park promised that all senior citizens aged over 65 will receive 200,000 won under the basic pension program.
With the program, relatively wealthy seniors will be excluded from receiving the pension. Eligible citizens will also see a cut in their expected benefits as the new program gradually cuts the amount of support depending on how long the individual has already been on the existing national pension program.
“It’s a cheap fraud,” said a citizen surnamed Kim, 67, who was sitting on a bench in Tapgol Park in central Seoul. A number of seniors were sitting on the park, where many elderly citizens frequent, talking about the plan.
“I voted for Park because her welfare pledge was better than that of her rivals. Now she apologizes for not keeping her promise, showing that she lured citizens with the program which was impossible from the beginning,” Kim argued.
On Thursday, Park apologized for failing to deliver on her campaign promise.
Another senior at the park, surnamed Yoon, 71, also expressed disappointment.
“It is a matter of her keeping her promise, rather than the amount of support. Getting or not getting the benefit is not important. The more important thing is that Park, the leader of this country, did not keep her promise.”
The two said they were fans of Park, as she has been consistent on many political and diplomatic issues since she was the leader of the Grand National Party, which is now the ruling Saenuri Party. But they said their support for her is now swaying.
Meanwhile, those in their 50s, who will benefit from the support program down the road, were relatively calm about the scaled-back program.
Oh She-heum, 53, living in Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province, said the downscaled program is not likely to be seriously damaging for wealthy senior citizens.
“The country’s budget is not sufficient. The program cannot benefit all elderly citizens, but at least it helps senior citizens in need of the support. I don’t think it would matter much to wealthy senior citizens whether they get 200,000 won a month or not,” Oh said.
Another in her 50s in Daegu, one of the most loyal stalwart regions for Park and conservatives, said she is okay with the program though she may not get the benefit.
“I believe that welfare provided does not need to be equal for all citizens. 200,000 won could be small pocket change to some, but for others, it may be a large portion of their living costs.”
“If the government cannot provide a pension to all citizens, it should be given to people in need first,” she said.
The program was revealed a day before the government was to officially announce it, garnering huge criticisms from civil organizations that Park had betrayed her campaign promises.
More than 20 civil organizations, including the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, held a press conference on Wednesday and denounced Park: “Her promise was a mean fraud cheating the public. She abandoned promises made only 10 months ago.”
The program came as the government struggles to secure a sufficient amount of budget to finance the program amid sluggish economic recovery and shortages of tax revenue.
According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, some 39.6 trillion won will be needed to finance the program for four years, and about 90 percent of all citizens aged over 65 will be applicable.

2013-09-26 18:16

President set to face myriad of hurdles

Experts call for balance between welfare and tax
By Kim Rahn
On a day-to-day basis what matters most for daily living is money.
The Park Geun-hye administration confirmed Thursday that it will provide a monthly allowance to the elderly in lower-income brackets, not to all senior citizens as Park promised during her election campaign.
The allowance is one of a number of welfare promises likely to be scaled back, mainly due to budget shortages amid the prolonged economic slump.
While this has drawn criticism from civic groups and opposition parties and could deal a blow to the President when carrying out other state affairs in future, experts say it is time to find a national consensus on the balance between welfare and taxes.
In the budget plan for 2014, the government said that starting next July, it would provide 100,000-200,000 won in monthly allowances to citizens aged 65 or over whose income is at the bottom 70 percent of their age group, with the amounts differing according to how long they have subscribed to the national pension program.
The original election pledge was to provide 200,000 won to all senior citizens regardless of their income or national pension subscription history _ a promise that required 57 trillion won of budget finances over four years.
What is of more concern is that the allowance is not the only pledges that have been trimmed due to a lack of budget.
The Park administration had promised to fully cover medical expenses for four terminal diseases including cancer. But the budget plan showed patients will have to share costs for up to 940,000 won per year in 2013 and up to 340,000 won by 2016.
Still, the plan does not include fees not covered by the national health insurance, so government support will be far short of the expenses patients actually have to pay.
The “half-price tuition” pledge for university students is also unlikely to be achieved because the government allocated a small budget to state scholarships, through which it aimed to achieve the goal.
The budget scheme also did not set any money aside for free high school education, another campaign pledge which the government planned to gradually initiate.
Free childcare services might also be modified because the government plans to cover an additional 10 percent of expenses for the service, down from the previous pledge of 20 percent, and local authorities claim they cannot fill the financial gap so that the service could be halted altogether.
The People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy said that the budget plan is a reversal of Park’s campaign promises.
“The government scaled back the pledges against the people’s hope for strong welfare, citing budget shortages. But the shortage problem was anticipated for months,” the civic group said in a statement.
Analysts said the failure to fulfill the pledges comes from a lack of budget, because the economic situation has not improved as much as the government expected and thus it has been unable to collect the expected amount of tax revenue.
“The nation’s growth is lower than forecast and tax revenue is smaller than forecast. But Park has promises to keep. If she is to keep all the promises, it will damage fiscal health, and if she is to maintain the health, she cannot fulfill the promises,” economist Lee Tae-hwan of Samsung Economic Research Institute said.
“Either is not an easy choice. President Park needs to try to find the middle ground,” he said.
Hyundai Research Institute (HRI) researcher Lee Jun-hyup said not many people would want the government to hastily adopt welfare policies at the cost of fiscal healthiness, and then the question is how to secure enough budget.
“Korea doesn’t have a national consensus on to what extent it will expand welfare and to what extent it will spend for it,” he said.
He said at this time when the government’s welfare budget surpasses 100 trillion won, the government needs to present a national vision on welfare and tax and get people’s consensus.
“If people prefer large-scale welfare like advanced nations, then there must be a consensus about paying more tax. We should talk about welfare and tax at the same time, with a comprehensive vision,” he said

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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