Japan unveils plans to boost birth rates with health insurance premium changes

Child-rearing families will receive benefits that exceed their contributions

Japan unveils plans to boost birth rates with health insurance premium changes

Life & Health

By Kenneth Araullo

The Japanese government has unveiled a proposal to implement a new system designed to combat the nation's declining birth rate. The plan involves the introduction of a surcharge on medical insurance premiums, which will vary based on individuals' financial capability.

The initiative, which is part of the government's broader strategy to address demographic challenges, is being reviewed by the Children and Families Agency. The agency aims to finalise the system's framework by the end of the year.

According to a Yomiuri Shimbun report, this move comes as the government seeks to secure additional funding in the region of mid-JPY3 trillion annually over the next three years to enhance measures tackling the low birth rate issue. The primary source of this funding is expected to be the new support fund system, supplemented by comprehensive expenditure reforms.

Under the proposed system, benefits will be directed towards families with children, funded by contributions from medical insurance policyholders. The draft outlines a model where households raising children will receive benefits that significantly exceed their contributions. In contrast, other policyholders will see this as an additional financial commitment.

The draft emphasises the need to consider the public's financial capacity when determining the contribution amounts, aiming to prevent excessive financial burdens. The support fund is likely to be administered through the existing medical insurance system, with entities like health insurance associations potentially overseeing its operations.

Initially, the support fund will prioritise supporting measures related to pregnancy, childbirth, and care for children up to two years old. This specific focus aims to provide immediate support during the crucial early stages of child-rearing.

This push for higher birth rates in Japan echoes a similar initiative unveiled by Southwest China's Guangxi recently, with the Chinese region announcing the incorporation of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and other fertility services as part of its fundamental medical insurance.

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