Japan to Extend Health Care ‘Eligibility Certificate’ to 5 Years

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo on Friday.

The government plans to extend the validity of “certificates of eligibility” — to be issued to people who have not yet transferred the functionality of their health insurance certificates to their My Number identification cards — from one year to five years at the maximum, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday.

The government intends to eliminate health insurance certificates by unifying their data with My Number card data.

The move comes in response to a series of problems involving My Number cards, with the government aiming to ease public concerns by allowing people to select either a My Number card linked to a health insurance certificate, or a certificate of eligibility, according to government sources.

People who hold certificates of eligibility will be covered by health insurance when visiting medical institutions. Under the envisioned framework, health insurance associations and other insurers can set a maximum validity period of five years for such documents, thus lessening the potential workload associated with an annual-renewal approach.

The government had originally envisioned certificates of eligibility being issued based on applications from health insurance subscribers. However, it will now review this stance, in principle, allowing insurers to issue relevant documents to individuals who have not linked their health insurance certificates to their My Number cards, ensuring people continue to have health insurance coverage.

Under the envisioned framework, those who have already linked their health insurance certificates to their My Number cards will also be eligible for certificates of eligibility — if they terminate the linkage.

The government plans to abolish the health insurance certificates in autumn 2024, but Kishida has been reticent about finalizing the deadline.

Kishida said he intends to examine the plan after weighing the outcome of the review.