Planned health insurance system "reform" threatens life -- Akahata
editorial, September 26, 2001

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on September 25 published a draft
proposal for medical services reforms. It focuses on asking the working
people and the elderly to take larger shares for medical costs. The
proposal, if approved by parliament, will be put into effect from April

Under the government plan, workers with health insurance will have to pay
30 percent of their medical bills, instead of the present 20 percent, and
elderly people aged between 70 and 74, 20 percent instead of the present 10

Akahata of September 26 carried an editorial criticizing the government
proposal as posing a serious threat to the life and health of the people.
The burden will be 1.5 times heavier for wage earners, and twice for elderly
people. Increases in the financial burden imposed on the people will
necessarily discourage sick people from visiting doctors. This is exactly
what the 1997 medical insurance system reform did.

When working people's share of medical costs was raised to 20 percent
from 10 percent, an estimated 350,000 patients stopped visiting their

The government is also proposing the introduction of insurance premiums
which will be determined in proportion to the gross income (including
bonuses) of the insured. An increase in the rates of the premiums is also

The need now is for the government to reconsider the basic Liberal
Democratic Party concept of reform focusing on less government expenditure
and more burdens to be imposed on the people.

It is possible to secure the necessary funds by cutting the excessively
large expenditure for wasteful public works projects.

If the proposed adverse reform of the health insurance system is enacted,
the people's health will be at risk, and what is called the consumption
recession will deepen.

The task now is for the people to join forces to develop a national
struggle to change the nation's budget structure and stop further adverse
revisions of the health insurance system. (end)