News Life and Health28 Aug 2018

Japan:Govt to prop up ailing health insurance societies

28 Aug 2018

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare is seeking JPY3bn ($27m) in the fiscal year starting 1 April 2019 (FY2019) to help prop up health insurance societies covering employees of major companies and prevent them from disbanding, reports The Mainichi.

If health insurance societies for employees of major businesses are disbanded, the policyholders will be transferred to the Japan Health Insurance Association, which is subsidised by the national government. The more the number of such organisations is dissolved, the greater the financial burden the central government must bear to support the Japan Health Insurance Association.

Health insurance organisations for employees of big companies, among others, rely solely on insurance premiums paid by their policyholders, since taxpayers' money is not injected into these organisations as a general rule.

Many of these organisations struggle financially, and nine of them disbanded in FY2017. The number of health insurance societies for employees of major businesses, which stood at 1,518 in FY2007, has decreased to 1,389 organisations in the current fiscal year. A health insurance society for employees of a cooperative has decided to dissolve itself by the end of this fiscal year.

Many of these organisations have stopped subsidising thorough medical checkups for their members and providing counselling about health in a bid to balance their budgets.

Health insurance societies contribute nearly half of their income from premiums to support the medical care system for the elderly, which is one of the causes of their financial difficulties. However, the Health Ministry suspects that there are some societies that have management problems.

The Ministry will also require health insurance societies to submit their management plans. It will select health insurance societies for the proposed assistance programme by examining their premium rates, medical service expenses and the age composition of their policyholders.

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