Introduction: From 2007, competitive bidding for procurement became widely employed by the Japanese Government, and health check providers for government workers are selected every year by this method. Deterioration of health check quality due to excessive price competition is a serious concern. The National Federation of Industrial Health Organization (Zeneiren) conducted an investigative research on the contracting of health check providers and occupational physicians in workplaces in 2015–2016 in an effort to prevent low-cost but low-quality health checks. The report of the research is available on the homepage of Zeneiren. In this paper, we provide a brief overview of the report, and deterioration of health check quality due to dumping by and switching of health check providers is discussed from economic and legal viewpoints.
Method: Information was obtained from articles in print and on the Internet.
Results: A questionnaire survey of health check providers revealed that excessive discounts due to both competitive bidding and demand from companies commissioning health checks occurred on a routine basis, and some providers were concerned about worsening business conditions in the future. In a separate questionnaire survey of occupational physicians, it was discovered that they were able to evaluate the quality of health checks, whereas administrative officials responsible for selecting the providers were seldom able to adequately evaluate the health check quality, resulting in contracting providers of questionable quality, which in turn caused considerable dissatisfaction on the part of occupational physicians. Moreover, when health check providers were switched, the reporting format of health check results changed. The physicians did not favor such a change because of the considerably increased workload involved in coordinating past and current data and the risk of decreased occupational health service quality.
Discussion: Dumping makes the management of health check providers very difficult and is a cause of loss of social capital. If health check providers of good quality withdraw from the market, the supply of high-quality health checks decreases. This corresponds to external diseconomy caused by dumping on the part of the health check providers and loss of social surplus (economic surplus).
Conclusions: To avoid deterioration of occupational health service due to low-quality health checks and changes in the reporting format, occupational physicians must actively engage in the selection of health check providers of good quality.