TOKYO — The Japanese government plans to discontinue existing health insurance cards in favor of integrating them with “My Number” ID cards in fall 2024 as planned, official sources revealed on Aug. 2.
The sources added that the expiry date of a status certificate to be issued in place of the insurance card to bridge any gap to the My Number card would be extended.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to announce the moves at a press conference on Aug. 4, after a meeting of relevant ministers.
Those who have not obtained their My Number cards will still be able to get insurance coverage with the status certificate even after their health cards are no longer valid. The new proposal would extend the certificate’s validity, currently envisioned at one year, to the expiry date of a person’s existing health insurance card. Expiration dates differ depending on the insurer.
The government is also poised to release on Aug. 8 an interim report on a comprehensive inspection of personal information linking problems in the My Number ID system. As for why Kishida will explain the health insurance card plans prior to the interim report, one government source said, “The prime minister wants to announce the policy as soon as possible, since the public is anxious about the health insurance card issue because it’s in the news almost every day.”
However, it is unclear whether the plan will allay the public’s concerns, as critics have pointed out that the status confirmation certificate system is difficult to understand.
The prime minister will discuss the matter with Digital Minister Taro Kono, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato and others at the Cabinet meeting on Aug. 4. Although there was a proposal from within the prime minister’s office to postpone the abolition of standalone health insurance cards, both Kono and Kato opposed the idea, and discussions continued.
(Japanese original by Saori Moriguchi, Political News Department; and Yuki Nakagawa, Lifestyle, Science & Environment News Department)