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HOME  > Past issues  > 2011 February 2 - 8  > More local gov’ts seize residents’ properties to collect health insurance premiums
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2011 February 2 - 8 [WELFARE]

More local gov’ts seize residents’ properties to collect health insurance premiums

February 7, 2011
An increasing number of local governments are seizing properties of residents who are in arrears with their payments of national health insurance premiums.

According to the Welfare Ministry, in FY 2009, 182,583 households throughout the country had their properties attached by municipal offices due to their failure to pay their health insurance premiums. The number is nearly twice as that of FY 2006.

The health insurance premiums paid by insured people in FY 2009 was 88.1 percent of the total amount of premiums, which marked the lowest rate ever. More and more people are falling behind in their payments due to the continuous rise in the premiums.

In order to raise their premium-collection rate, local governments are using unjust methods that could threaten citizens’ constitutional right to live.

Maebashi City (Gunma Pref.) seized all the pension benefits deposited into the bank account of a resident who was paying the municipal office 30,000 yen every month in order to catch up with his overdue payments in the national health insurance.

Usa City attached salaries, aid for children and other forms of public subsidies paid to bank accounts of 100 households without notifying them in advance. As a result, some of the insured people lost all their savings.

The national government has pushed local governments to collect national health insurance premiums from their residents. The Welfare Ministry in 2005 issued a written notice urging municipalities to come up “urgent plans” to raise the rate of premiums collection.

The new government led by the Democratic Party of Japan has continued the policies of the former government. A notice it sent to municipal offices last May demanded that they further increase health insurance premiums and improve their rate of collection.

The Japanese Communist Party demands that the government share of contributions be increased and the system expanded to exempt or ease households in need from paying premiums. It calls for an emergent decrease in premium rates.
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