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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 March 29 - April 4  > Min-iren survey: Poverty holds people back from seeing doctors, resulting in 58 deaths
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2017 March 29 - April 4 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Min-iren survey: Poverty holds people back from seeing doctors, resulting in 58 deaths

April 1, 2017
The Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions (Min-iren) on March 31 held a press conference in Tokyo and announced that its survey found that 58 people died in 2016 because they did not go to see a doctor until it was too late due to financial concerns.

Noting that the survey only covers 641 Min-iren-affiliated medical facilities, Min-iren Vice Secretary General Yamamoto Toshiko stressed that the 58 cases are only the tip of the iceberg. She said that a much larger number of poor people probably die each year because they are unable to afford to pay for medical care.

According to Min-iren, 45% of the 58 people were unemployed and 29% were self-employed or contingent workers.

The survey showed that 34 of the 58 people were arrears in paying national health insurance premiums due to economic reasons and as a result their national health insurance cards were taken from them or they were given a temporary insurance card which requires card holders to initially pay the entire medical cost.

On the other hand, it was also revealed that even those with a national insurance card often refrain from seeing a doctor because their financial conditions do not allow them to pay for medical treatment. As an example, Yamamoto cited the case of a jobless man in his 60s. Although he lived with a son getting disability pension benefits and a daughter working as a low-paid non-regular worker, the family’s income level did not allow the father, who was suffering from liver cancer, to receive costly cancer treatment. The man died of the cancer after being taken to a hospital by ambulance.

Yamamoto pointed out that the Abe government is seeking to impose heavier medical burdens on the general public and criticized the government policy for leading to more deaths from poverty.

Past related articles:
> 63 people died due to delays in seeking treatment at hospitals because of poverty [March 23, 2016]
> 56 died due to being too late to see doctor because of poverty [May 8, 2015]

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