Cuts in national health insurance premiums for people out of work

Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Akira Nagatsuma has announced cuts in national health insurance premiums for people who have lost their jobs.

Under a new system beginning in April, the yearly national health insurance premium will be decreased for people who lose their jobs, based on their yearly income. For a couple with one child and a yearly income of 5 million yen, the premium will fall from 347,000 yen a year to 148,000 yen a year — a decrease of nearly 200,000 yen.

Since national health insurance premiums are calculated based on the previous year’s income, there have been cases in which people found it impossible to pay high premiums after losing their jobs and source of income, resulting in a loss of health insurance coverage.

In order to lower the premiums for people who lose their jobs, the enforcement order for the National Health Insurance Law will be revised in March, and a bill to revise the Local Tax Law has been submitted at a regular session of the Diet. Under the changes, it will be possible to calculate insurance premiums based on an amount that is 30 percent of the person’s actual wages earned the previous year.

The measures will apply to people who have employment insurance, and who receive an unemployment benefit after losing work through no choice of their own. People can apply to have their premiums reduced at local government offices, and the measure will apply from the day after the person loses work until the end of the next fiscal year.

The reduction in premiums will remain in force for people who become self-employed after losing their jobs and stay in the national health insurance scheme, but if they sign up with national health insurance associations that employees of small- or medium-sized businesses belong to or with company health insurance programs, the reductions will not apply.

Under the measures, people with a yearly income of 10 million yen, for example, will have their premiums reduced from 590,000 yen a year to 283,000 yen. Those on a yearly income of 3 million yen will have their premiums lowered from 233,000 yen a year to 85,000 yen, while those with a yearly income of 1.5 million yen will have the premiums reduced from 134,000 yen a year to 48,000.

Reductions will also apply to people belonging to health insurance associations who move to the national health insurance program after losing their job. Some 870,000 people including the families of people who lose their jobs are expected to use the new system.