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Politics

Japan likely to hike health insurance premiums for seniors

TOKYO -- Japan's Health Ministry plans to raise health insurance premiums for those 75 and older in fiscal 2016 as part of an effort to deal with ballooning medical costs for the country's public medical insurance system.

     This and other proposed changes will be presented at a panel under the ministry on Wednesday, with the aim of having relevant bills submitted to the Diet next year. The expenditures of the central government are expected to be reduced by about 80 billion yen ($735 million).

     The ministry intends to eliminate a premium reduction for those 75 years and older that are dependents of their children, a move that will affect some 1.7 million people. This is expected to save the national government about 21.8 billion yen.

     It also plans to phase out a special provision that cuts premiums by up to 90% for those 75 years and older with low incomes.

     The ministry also plans to seek additional premium payments from high-income earners with monthly incomes of 1.21 million yen or more. Roughly 300,000 people are expected to fall into this category.

     The latest proposed changes are meant to fix some distortions in the public medical insurance system. Fearing objections from seniors, the government had kept premium reductions for those 75 years and older in place even after the nation's public insurance system was overhauled in April 2008.   (Nikkei)

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