Thursday, September 26, 2013
Better-Off Seniors May Face Heavier Nursing Care Burden
TOKYO (Nikkei)--Elderly people with annual pension incomes above certain thresholds would see their out-of-pocket payments for public nursing care double to 20% under a government proposal.
This would mark the first increase since the program was established in fiscal 2000. With nursing care expenses swelling as the population rapidly grays, the Health and Welfare Ministry is scrambling to improve the finances of the insurance scheme.
The ministry is considering two pension income thresholds: 2.8 million yen and 2.9 million yen. For married couples, the figures would reach 3.59 million yen and 3.69 million yen, respectively. Either limit would affect about 20% of the roughly 30 million individuals in Japan aged 65 and up.
The ministry aims to start collecting higher out-of-pocket payments from fiscal 2015. It is also considering cutting subsidies for room-and-board fees for seniors who move into nursing homes. For example, a married couple with at least 20 million yen in financial assets or real estate holdings would be ineligible for the subsidies, even if its taxable income is zero.
Nursing care benefit costs are expected to rise from 8.7 trillion yen in fiscal 2013 to roughly 20 trillion yen in fiscal 2025. The ministry will hammer out specifics for its proposal around November, with plans to include them in revised nursing care insurance legislation for submission to next year's ordinary Diet session.
(The Nikkei, Sept. 26 morning edition)