Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Japan Launches Nursing Insurance Scheme for the Elderly

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Japan Launches Nursing Insurance Scheme for the Elderly

Article excerpt

Japan took a major step towards caring for the world's fastest ageing population in April with the introduction of an ambitious new nursing insurance scheme. Modelled on a similar set-up in Germany, the Nursing Care Insurance System makes elderly people more responsible for the costs of their care and encourages the private sector to enter the nursing market. The scheme is designed to lower the government's medical bill, which is rising at the rate of 1 trillion yen (US$ 9.5 billion) per annum, and to make up for a shortage of care-providers.

Each year, 100 000 people are forced to give up their jobs to nurse elderly family members and with the population set to start shrinking within the next five years, the ratio of workers to retirees is expected to fall to 2:1 by 2025, from the current ratio of 4:1. Under the scheme, people over the age of 64 will have to pay 10% of their nursing costs as well as a monthly premium of about US$ 29. In return, they will be entitled to care worth up to US$ 4000 per month depending on circumstances. Limited cover will be available to those aged between 40 to 64.

The complex scheme has got off to a bumpy start. A month before it was to begin, municipal officials faced a backlog of about 700 000 applications. …

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