Defaulters on national health insurance premiums doubled

During the past year, the number of defaulters on national health insurance premiums accounted for 18 percent of those insured, and those who had their health insurance cards invalididated doubled, according to a recent survey by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor.

As of June 1 4.12 million households have failed to pay health insurance premiums, an increase of over one million during the past several years; 225,000 households had their cards canceled by the government.

The result of the ministry survey indicates that Japan's basic health insurance system is now at the edge of the cliff, said Akahata of November 17.

If the health insurance card is forfeited, a temporary card is provided. Holders of this card have to pay the total amount of medical expenses at hospitals, although 70 percent will be paid back later from local governments.

In 1986, the government decided to cancel health insurance cards of those who were in arrears, and in 1997 Koizumi Jun'ichiro, Health and Welfare minister at the time, further adversely revised the system so that all people in arrears are automatically canceled.

House of Councilors member Inoue Miyo (Japanese Communist Party) stated that the Koizumi cabinet is responsible for the destruction of the health insurance system. Planned further increases in medical, pension, and nursing care premiums, totaling three trillion yen, should be immediately stopped, and the central government's defrayal rate for these systems be drastically increased. She called for an increase in public opposition to achieve such alternatives. (end)