There is growing interest in comparing patterns of social and health service development in advanced Asian economies. Most publications concentrate broadly on a range of core social services such as education, housing, social security and health care. In terms of those solely focused on health, most discuss arrangements in specific countries and territories. Some take a comparative approach, but are focused on presentation and discussion of expenditure, resourcing and service utilization data. This article extends the comparative analysis of advanced Asian health systems, considering the cases of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. The article provides basic background information, and delves into common concerns among the world's health systems today including primary care organization, rationing and cost containment, service quality, and system integration. Conclusions include that problems exist in 'classifying' the five diverse systems; that the systems face common pressures; and that there are considerable opportunities to enhance primary care, service quality and system integration.
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