Founded by Ronald Kessler, an American expatriate living in Japan for the past 30 years, The Free Choice Foundation is a newly established grassroots organization with a core strategy based primarily on President Obama's reform principle of 'guarantee choice' with regards to healthcare.
Tokyo, Japan (PRWEB) July 1, 2009 -- Based on the spirit of U.S. President Obama's 'Guarantee Choice,' newly formed grassroots organization Free Choice Foundation will lobby the Japanese government for foreigners' right to choose whether to be enrolled in socialized medicine or private healthcare. Created by Ronald Kessler, an American expatriate living in Japan, Free Choice plans to compile factual data regarding the needs of the foreign community in Japan and present it to the Japanese government, President Obama, and newly appointed Ambassador to Japan, John Roos.
When President Obama announced his 'Three Principles for Real Health Care Reform,' one in particular caught Kessler's attention. The President's 2nd Principle of 'guarantee choice' declares that "Americans must have the freedom to keep whatever doctor and health care plan they have, or select a new doctor or health care plan if they choose." After hearing those words, Kessler went into action almost immediately laying the groundwork for the new organization.
While socialized health care in Japan is compulsory for all residents, many expatriates avoid enrollment in favor of private insurance, which typically carries important foreigner-friendly benefits that the socialized system does not. For instance, there are a small number of foreign doctors practicing medicine in Japan outside of the socialized system, and their fees are only covered by private insurance. Additionally, many international health plans cover evacuation and repatriation of remains, as well as other benefits that are important to people who live overseas.
According to Free Choice, until now the Japanese government has more or less turned a blind eye to expatriates not wishing to enroll in its socialized heath care. But, beginning in April of next year, Immigration intends to make visa renewal contingent upon one's enrollment in the system. (There is no current or proposed punishment for Japanese citizens not enrolling in the socialized system.)
"When I caught wind of this, my acid reflux shot through the roof," said Kessler, a 30-year resident of Japan. "There must be a few million Japanese citizens who are not on the plan; yet when it comes to us foreigners, it's going to be either join it or leave the country. If you can't get your own citizens to comply, it's not really fair to try to force compliance upon foreigners."
Additionally, Kessler feels that foreigners living in Japan have special medical needs and should be allowed the choice of their own doctors and health care plans. He states, "The foreign doctors here are generally better able to treat foreign patients. They can communicate in English more effectively than their Japanese counterparts and usually have had years of experience in dealing with the symptoms that foreign nationals tend to develop living in Japan."
Kessler goes on to say, "What's really ironic about this and other newly imposed immigration restrictions is that it's coming at a time when the city of Yokohama is celebrating the 150-year opening of its famous port." Japan was closed to the world for many years until Commodore Matthew Perry went there in 1854 with a fleet of American ships and negotiated a treaty, effectively opening the island nation to the rest of the world.
In a society whose universal health care system would make Hillary Clinton drool, there is a little-known sector of private health care that is kept alive by Americans and other expatriates. However, this last bastion of privatized medicine in Japan has now come under the threat of extinction. According to Kessler, Japan appears to be slipping back into its closed and reclusive ways.
For more information on The Free Choice Foundation, please visit www.FreeChoice.jp.
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