Japan's parliament enacted a law Friday to scrap health insurance cards and incorporate them in My Number national identification cards, effectively making it mandatory for all residents to obtain the ID cards despite a series of cases involving the mishandling of personal data.
The government aims to execute the integration in fall next year despite growing concern about the security of personal data retained under the My Number system, following reports of thousands of cases in which health insurance data was erroneously registered and exposed.
With the enactment, everyone in Japan would effectively be required to obtain a My Number ID card because Japan's health insurance system covers all residents. The House of Councillors on Friday approved the bill that was already cleared by the House of Representatives.
Once the health insurance cards are integrated, people will be required to present their My Number cards at hospitals in order to have their medical expenses covered by national insurance.
The government says certificates will be issued to those who do not possess My Number cards, but they would need to be renewed every year. Individuals without a My Number card would pay more for treatment.
Under the My Number ID card system, launched in 2016, a 12-digit number is issued to each citizen and foreign resident of Japan to link a range of personal data such as information related to taxes and social security.
The government introduced the system as part of efforts to drive the country's digitization, claiming it would increase convenience by enabling various procedures to be completed electronically.