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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 August 7 - 13  > Number of elderly experiencing asset seizure due to arrears in public health insurance premium increases eightfold
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2019 August 7 - 13 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Number of elderly experiencing asset seizure due to arrears in public health insurance premium increases eightfold

August 11, 2019

The number of elderly people whose property was seized due to delinquency in payment of premiums for the public health insurance program for people aged 75 years and over grew by eight times between 2009 and 2017.

This was revealed in documents that the Welfare Ministry submitted to Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Councilors Tamura Tomoko.

Among pensioners enrolled in the “medical care insurance system” for the elderly aged 75 or over, those who often fall behind in health insurance premium payments are low-income earners receiving miniscule pension benefits of 15,000 yen a month at best. They also have to shoulder heavy financial burdens associated with nursing-care insurance premiums and the consumption tax.

The reason for the surge in the number of forcible seizures is most likely because under the strengthening of premium collection promoted by the coalition government of the Liberal Democratic and Komei parties, local authorities automatically resorted to seizure without considering taking other options such as a reduction in the amount of payment or payment in installments.

The Abe government plans to scale back a special measure allowing a reduction in premiums of the health insurance covering people aged 75 or over. As a result, the maximum discount rate will be 70%, down from the current 90%. This will pose an additional financial burden on low fixed-income elderly.

***

The numbers of elderly and disability households on welfare went up in May this year on a year-on-year basis, according to a survey published on August 10 by the Welfare Ministry.

The survey found that 1.63 million households received welfare benefits in May. Among them, the number of households headed by elderly persons and households headed by persons with disabilities went up by 15,736 and 3,533, respectively. In addition, elderly households made up 55% of the total, and 90% of them were single-member households.

Past related articles:
> 349K households in arrears with national health insurance premiums had their assets seized in 2017 [April 14, 2019]
> JCP Kasai calls for ‘sunshine’ approach to reduce number of people in arrears in national health insurance premiums [February 21, 2019]
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