Foreigners suspected of exploiting public health insurance


The Japanese government has begun a nationwide probe into foreign residents allegedly exploiting the country's public health insurance system. The health ministry will compile the findings of the survey later in the 2018 and discuss steps to prevent abuse of the insurance system.

Japan had 2.56 million foreign residents at the end of 2017, up for the fifth consecutive year, according to the Justice Ministry. Of the total, Chinese nationals accounted for the most at 29%, followed by South Koreans at 18% and Vietnamese and Filipinos, both at 10%.

With the government planning to rely more on foreign workers to compensate for the country's shortage of manpower, aiming for more than 500,000 foreign workers by 2025, foreign residents are expected to increase further.

In Japan, all residents including foreigners must enrol in a health insurance plan provided by their employers, which also covers their dependents, or enrol for national health insurance at their local municipal offices.

Even if they are not company employees, foreigners who stay in Japan for three months or longer for business or study purposes can apply for national health insurance coverage.

Public health insurance coverage in Japan requires a policyholder to pay 30% of the cost at medical institutions, with the remaining amount covered by the policy.

There have been several incidents where foreigners have fraudulently obtained resident status, for example by posing as students studying in Japan. In other cases, people whose family ties with foreign residents are questionable came from overseas to receive treatment in Japan.



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