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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 April 29 - May 12  > 56 died due to being too late to see doctor because of poverty
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2015 April 29 - May 12 [WELFARE]

56 died due to being too late to see doctor because of poverty

May 8, 2015
The number of people who died because they put off seeing a doctor due to economic reasons reached 56 in 2014, the Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions (Min-iren) announced recently.

According to the organization, 33 of the 56 people (about 60%) had no valid national health insurance cards. Twenty-six of the 33 did not have enough money to pay their national health insurance premiums.

A woman in her 60s sank into dire poverty after she lost her husband. She failed to pay her national health insurance premiums and her insurance card was confiscated. One day, she was found unconscious and taken to hospital. The doctor diagnosed her illness as terminal rectal cancer. The next day, she died.

A man in his 50s got into arrears with his national health insurance payments. The authorities took away his insurance card and gave him a qualification certificate in its place. Patients with this certificate need to pay all expenses for treatment at hospitals and then receive partial rebates from municipalities.

The man gave up getting treatment for diabetes. When he visited a doctor when he could no longer bear the pain, he was diagnosed as having liver cancer and hospitalized immediately. A few days later, he passed away.

The number of households in arrears with national health insurance premiums comes to 3.6 million in the country. The premiums have kept rising because the state has continuously reduced its contribution to the insurance program.

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s government submitted to the Diet in March a bill that will cause a further increase in national health insurance premiums as well as promote the forcible collection of premiums.

If the bill is enacted, it will make it impossible for municipalities to maintain their independent measures to help reduce the burdens associated with the payment of insurance premiums.

Min-iren and the Japanese Communist Party are demanding that the government withdraw the bill and meaningfully increase the state share in the national health insurance program in order to lower the premiums.

Past related articles:
> Bill to increase medical insurance premiums passes Lower House committee [April 24 & 25, 2015]
> Moneyless 57 people died due to delay in seeing doctor [May 20, 2014]
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