Meiji Life Insurance Co. said Thursday it will offer diabetes and hypertension sufferers insurance coverage beginning April 2.

It is the first time a Japanese insurance firm has developed coverage specifically for such people, who in the past have had little chance of being covered, according to company officials.

Meiji Life will offer stipends 21 days after hospitalization and pay a maximum of 50 million yen following a death. The firm decided the plan is commercially viable since many patients have their blood pressure or blood-sugar levels under control.

In 1996, some 7.49 million people were treated at hospitals for hypertension and 2.17 million for diabetes, according to a Health and Welfare Ministry survey.

The program will cover patients who do not have complications and whose levels of blood sugar or blood pressure are well controlled by outpatient services.

It will not cover those who are currently hospitalized or facing immediate hospitalization. It also excludes those who have been hospitalized for either of the illnesses within the previous year.

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