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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 July 5 - 11  > Record 13,000 elderly people have their life savings seized due to arrears in nursing-care insurance premiums
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2017 July 5 - 11 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Record 13,000 elderly people have their life savings seized due to arrears in nursing-care insurance premiums

July 10, 2017
The Welfare Ministry on July 9 announced that in FY 2015, a record 13,371 elder people had their financial assets attached due to arrears in nursing-care insurance premiums. This indicates that under the Abe government, rising premiums are depriving the elderly of their access to nursing-care services.

Those elderly who failed to pay public nursing-care insurance premiums are persons with no or little pension benefits. Of those whose annual pension benefits are only 180,000 yen or less, 13% were unable to make the payments in FY 2014. The percentage nearly doubled from 7% in FY 2000 when the public nursing-care insurance system was introduced.

The problem of arrears in the premiums is closely connected with poverty. As a nursing-care insurance operator, local governments tried to seize bank accounts and other properties of the 13,371 individuals, but it turned out that 4,912 or 37% had no savings to be seized. It clearly shows that they were unable to pay insurance premiums due to being in a serious state of poverty.

Those who failed to pay nursing-care insurance premiums are subject to penalties unless they have special reasons such as being affected by natural disasters or sudden loss of employment. If failing to make the payment for 12 months, the insured will be required to initially pay the entire cost of the nursing-care services and then claim refunds later. Regarding those who fail to pay the premiums for 18 months, refunds are suspended. Those with more than 24 months in arrears will face an additional penalty. They will have to shoulder 30% of the care service cost instead of 10% for a period of time even after they finish paying the unpaid premiums.

The amounts of nursing-care insurance premiums, which are set by each municipality, went up steadily since the system started in 2000. The national average of the premiums was 2,911 yen per month in the time period of 2000-2002 and it went up to 5,514 yen in the 2015-2017 period. It is said that the premium will be 8,165 yen in 2025.

While the insurance premiums keep rising, the government is seeking to impose a higher percentage of service costs on care receivers than the current 10%. Some insurance users already have to pay 20% of the costs after the Abe government adversely revised the nursing-care insurance system. In the latest Diet session, the government proposed to raise the burden rate of 20% to 30%. Such moves will leave a larger number of low-income elderly people without access to nursing care.

Past related articles:
> JCP efforts contribute to lowering nursing-care costs of disaster victims [February 19, 2016]
> 12,800 elderly penalized for nonpayment of nursing-care insurance premiums [June 29, 2015]
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