National health insurance tax forcibly collected

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare on February 22 decided to become more rigorous in collecting the National Health Insurance premiums from low-income earners. It has instructed municipalities to seize delinquents' postal savings or bank deposits.

The National Health Insurance system, which has been maintained with government funding, supports many low-income earners.

At present, 19.2 percent or 4.55 million families out of all the National Health Insurance holders cannot afford to pay the premiums. This is mainly due to the Koizumi reform promoting corporate restructuring in addition to the present economic recession and trying to reduce government burdens, Akahata said.

This is a vicious circle. The government has reduced subsidies to municipalities to help run the national health insurance system. Consequently, they have faced severe financial difficulty in maintaining the National Health Insurance and had to increase the insurance premiums. The present economic recession is an additional blow to the people. The number of premiums not being paid on time has increased and municipalities are experiencing financial shortfalls. The premiums have become more expensive.

The need now is for the government to reduce the cost of premiums and improve the system of premiums reduction or exemption in order to end the increase in the number of people unable to pay. (end)

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