Japan sees rise in demand for dementia insurance

Differences among local programmes must be ironed out, says elderly welfare advocate

Japan sees rise in demand for dementia insurance

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

By 2025, seven million elderly people in Japan are expected to be diagnosed with dementia. In response, several local governments are taking action.

According to a report by The Asahi Shimbun, 39 local governments across Japan are helping elders to access insurance programmes that cover dementia. These local governments typically shoulder a percentage of the premiums.

The insurance programmes usually cover incidents such as damaging merchandise during shopping, as well as injuring pedestrians while riding a bicycle. However, incidents involving elders driving motor vehicles are excluded, the report said. The age ranges of senior citizens covered, compensation levels and percentage of premiums subsidised also depend on the particular local government unit.

In November 2017, Yamato City in Kanagawa Prefecture was the first to implement such an insurance programme, the report said. In the following year, five other municipal governments followed suit, with even more following in subsequent months.

The government of Kobe City has dedicated around ¥300 million (US$2.8 million) to provide various support services for elderly individuals with dementia. In April, it launched a combined insurance and condolence money programme, where the city government pays for damages resulting from an incident caused by an elderly person with dementia.

According to Morio Suzuki, head of the Alzheimer’s Association Japan, the group’s members are calling for a uniform nationwide public support system for seniors with dementia. Due to the differences among local government-initiated programs, there could be issues about fairness, he said.

However, Suzuki still applauded the local governments’ efforts, saying that, in the past, there have been initiatives pioneered by municipalities that were later adopted nationwide, the report said.

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