The number of people 65 or older expected to require nursing care is projected to grow by more than a fifth by fiscal 2025 to about 7.7 million, a tally based on prefectural data shows.
In fiscal 2025, social security costs are expected to grow sharply as the postwar baby boomers — the nation’s biggest age demographic — form a stratum of people 75 or older. Those needing care as certified by their municipal governments stood at about 6.29 million in December.
The tally compiled and released by Kyodo News on Sunday thus says those needing nursing care will rise by 22 percent.
To curb the projected surge in nursing care costs, the government is studying a plan to raise the ratio for out-of-pocket expenditures.
On average, the national ratio of those who need nursing care to the entire population of senior citizens is expected to rise to 21.3 percent in fiscal 2025 from 18.1 percent last December.
By prefecture, that ratio is expected to hit 25.9 percent in Osaka (meaning 1 out of 4 will need care), 23.9 percent in Kyoto, 23.5 percent in Ehime, 17.2 percent in Yamanashi, 17.9 percent in Ibaraki and 18.3 percent in Shizuoka.
Chiba is expected to post a 1.37-fold increase in those needing nursing care, the fastest, followed by a 1.35-fold rise in Kanagawa and a 1.34-fold climb in Saitama. The slowest increase, about 1.05-fold, is projected for both Wakayama and Shimane, with Yamagata projected to climb by 1.07-fold.
A health ministry survey three years ago estimated that the number of elderly requiring nursing care would reach 8.26 million in fiscal 2025.
The 560,000 difference with Kyodo’s tally might be linked to higher numbers of health-conscious seniors and greater efforts to raise awareness.
When the public nursing care insurance scheme kicked off in fiscal 2000, it required seniors to pay only 10 percent of their bills. But in 2015 that was hiked to 20 percent for those with an annual income of ¥1.6 million or more. For singles subsisting only on pension payments, the threshold was set at ¥2.8 million.
Starting from August, those making ¥3.4 million or more annually will have to pay 30 percent of their costs out of pocket.
The Finance Ministry has proposed requiring that everyone pay 20 percent of their costs out of pocket in principle, but the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is reluctant to endorse the plan.
The government is also planning to let unqualified caregivers attend to those requiring low levels of care to reduce personnel costs.
However, the ruling parties remain wary of plans to increase the financial burden of the elderly and slash their insurance payments.