Alternative Documents for Health Insurance in Japan May Get Longer Life

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato speaks at a House of Councillors committee deliberations on Wednesday.

In the latest wrinkle in the government’s plan to eliminate national health insurance certificates and fold their functions into the My Number identification cards, the government has begun to consider not setting a uniform expiration date for the “certificates of eligibility” it plans to issue in place of national health insurance certificates for those who have not yet acquired a My Number card.

The government aims to alleviate the concerns of the public by increasing the convenience of the certificates of eligibility.

The certificates of eligibility are mentioned in the revised Health Insurance Law that was passed at the last ordinary session of the Diet. This will allow those who have not yet received the My Number card to receive insurance-covered medical treatment by presenting the certificate at a medical facility.

The government had previously stated that insurers would issue certificates that would be valid for up to one year. Renewal procedures would be required each time the expiration date was reached.

The government plans to modify the policy of setting a one-year limit and adjust the expiration dates of certificates of eligibility in conformity with those of current health insurance certificates.

Currently, most national health insurance certificates for the self-employed are valid for one to two years, while those for people aged 75 and over are generally valid for one year. Meanwhile, health insurance associations for company employees and their family members are expected to make their own decisions about the term of validity.

Regarding aligning the period of validity of the certificates of eligibility with the current health insurance certificates, a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry official said, “In effect, people can use the new certificate in the same way as the current health insurance certificate.”

 “We would like to take appropriate measures to ensure that all insured persons can receive necessary medical care under the insurance scheme after identifying those who do not have a My Number card,” Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato said at deliberations held by the House of Councillors’ Special Committee on Regional Revitalization and Formation of a Digital Society on Wednesday, with the Diet adjourned.

During the deliberations, there was a flurry of criticism and demands from the ruling and opposition parties regarding the problems surrounding the My Number card and the government’s policy of setting the autumn of 2024 as the deadline for folding the health insurance certificates into the My Number cards.

Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Taro Yamada called for an extension of the deadline for the abolition of the insurance certificate, saying, “The government must carefully obtain the public’s understanding of the abolition of the health insurance certificate, rather than setting a deadline for its abolition.”

Hideya Sugio of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan noted that the recent on-site inspection of the Digital Agency by the government’s Personal Information Protection Commission is “an unusual situation.”

“The My Number card has many advantages. I would like to carefully explain them to the public and allay their concerns,” digital minister Taro Kono said.