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The health ministry on Wednesday put into full-scale operation an online system to use My Number social security and taxation identification cards as public health insurance cards.

The introduction of the online insurance eligibility confirmation system is part of the government's efforts to promote the use of My Number cards.

The system is intended to simplify reception procedures for My Number card holders and also to allow the holders to check their prescription records.

Medical institutions and pharmacies that are accepting My Number cards as health insurance cards currently account for only about 8% of a total of some 230,000 such facilities across Japan.

The government, which aims to have almost all people in the country get their My Number cards by the end of March 2023, is expanding in stages the scope of administrative services for which My Number cards can be used.

The government also plans to integrate the My Number card with the driver's license and introduce My Number card functions on smartphones.

At present, the card possession rate stands at around 40%.

Those willing to use My Number cards as health insurance cards have to register for the system through the government's Mynaportal website and other platforms.

When My Number cards are held over special card readers installed at medical institutions, patients' identity can be verified using face recognition technology. The system can simplify the procedures to check patients' eligibility to use health insurance.

On the Mynaportal website, My Number card holders can check their prescription records and the results of their health checkups.

Doctors and pharmacists are also allowed to check such data with the consent of patients.

The health ministry said My Number cards will allow people to receive treatment and prescriptions in an efficient way based on precise data.

From November, My Number card holders will also be able to check on the website records of medical bills they paid over the counter.

Over 50% of medical institutions and pharmacies in the country plan to start accepting My Number cards as health insurance cards but many of them have been unable to introduce the system due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and shortages of semiconductors, which are used in necessary equipment.

"Many facilities are taking a wait-and-see attitude as it is still uncertain how many people would use the system," a health ministry official said, adding that it is difficult to make people use the system as they can still use their health insurance cards.

The government is eager to have the system introduced at all medical institutions and pharmacies by the end of March 2023 and let people know how they can utilize My Number cards.

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