Major health insurance society for temporary staff considers calling it quits

JIJI

The Health Insurance Society for Temporary Workers in Japan, or Haken Kenpo, will hold an extraordinary meeting in September to discuss whether to dissolve itself during the current fiscal year through next March, it was learned Tuesday.

The move comes as many health insurance societies face financial difficulties against the backdrop of the nation’s graying population.

With about 510,000 temporary staffers, Haken Kenpo is one of the largest health insurance societies in Japan. If disbanded, current members would be expected to join the Japan Health Insurance Association, or Kyokai Kenpo, for workers at small businesses.

The migration would be the largest since Kyokai Kenpo was established in 2008, with state subsidies for the association expected to surge around ¥10 billion.

“The dissolution hasn’t been decided yet,” a Haken Kenpo official said. “We’ll make a decision after discussions at the upcoming meeting.”

Haken Kenpo’s premium has been rising in recent years, due to increases in insurance payments to cover medical bills and contributions to the national health care system for the elderly. The rate is set at 9.7 percent for fiscal 2018.

The average premium rate among health insurance societies across the country has risen for 11 years in a row through fiscal 2018, according to the National Federation of Health Insurance Societies, or Kenporen.

There are 313 societies on the verge of dissolution as their premium rates have climbed above Kyokai Kenpo’s prefecture-by-prefecture rates, which average around 10 percent, reducing the merits of operating independently.

“Haken Kenpo’s dissolution could cause a chain reaction,” a Kenporen official said. “We want the government to promote reform including a review of the elderly’s own medical expenses,” the official said.