Japan eyeing medical fee hike for elderly in Oct. 2022

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Japanese government plans to raise the proportion of out-of-pocket medical expenses borne by some people aged 75 or over to 20% from the current 10% in October 2022, it was learned Friday. Currently, the share stands at 10% in principle and 30% for people with relatively large income, such as those who live alone and earn ¥3.83 million or more a year.

Under the government plan, the share will be raised to 20% for people living alone and earning at least ¥2 million a year and for couples with a total annual income of ¥3.2 million or more, while measures to cushion the impacts of the hike will be implemented for three years after the change takes effect.

But the timing of the hike could be fluid as some ruling bloc lawmakers may voice caution over the higher financial burden ahead of next summer’s election for the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, sources said.

The Diet enacted in June medical system reform legislation, which calls for the hike to be made sometime between October 2022 and March 2023.

The envisaged reform is designed to cut public spending, as well as to slash the burden of working generations to maintain equality among generations.

Meanwhile, the government will take steps to prevent elderly people from developing serious symptoms as the heavier medical fee burden could make them reluctant to go to doctors.