• Kyodo

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Twenty-three of 47 prefectural governments have used tax money to help employees and members of their families pay medical expenses, according to a recent Kyodo News survey.

The finding is likely to spark criticism that local government employees have had their medical costs reduced via subsidies at a time when other people have been forced to pay higher health costs, critics say.

Under a revised national health insurance system, public employees and salaried workers saw the portion of their medical expenses that must be paid to medical institutions rise from 20 percent to 30 percent in April 2003. The rest is to be put up by funds pooled under the national health insurance system.

The increase came in response to a drop in funding for the national insurance system amid the rapid aging of Japanese society and falling birthrates.

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