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Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Akira Nagatsuma has declared that the government will abolish the unpopular health insurance system for the eldery that includes a plan for so-called later-stage seniors, or people aged 75 or over. But it is unclear when the system will be abolished and what shape a new system will take. The government should handle the issue carefully to avert public confusion.

Currently later-stage seniors and early-stage seniors (65 to 74 years old) belong to different health insurance plans. In introducing the current system in April 2008, the government said medical treatment for later-stage seniors tends to be prolonged, thus pushing up the nation’s total medical costs. Having a health insurance plan especially for people aged 75 or over makes it easier to measure their medical costs, and if “later-stage” medical costs increase, premiums could be raised accordingly.

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