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Government to link health insurance and pension plans

Date Posted: 2007-08-23

A new law going on the books next April requires everyone with health insurance to also contribute to the national pension fund.

The two systems are separate and different, and Okinawa officials are studying the new rules and questioning how it can work. The new rules say “any person who does not contribute into the pension fund shall not receive a long term health insurance card.” A Prefecture official says “It will be very hard to enforce the new rules.”

Speaking anonymously, he says the health insurance and pension programs are two totally separate entities, and it will be hard to explain why people have to pay pension premiums. “It’s even more difficult as a significant number of people paying for the health insurance are workless and have very limited ability to pay more,” he said, adding that “If we force those people to pay more, more of them will simply stop paying for their health insurance too, and that will lead to all kinds of problems down the road.”

A total of 25 municipalities across Okinawa, including all the large cities, say they’ll not enforce the plan. That includes Naha, Ginowan, Urasoe, Itoman, Nago, Uruma, Tomishiro, Nanjo and Miyako. Only smaller municipalities, including Zamami, Kunigami and Aguni Villages, and North and South Daito, say they’ll comply.

Low income families would be heavily impacted by the new law, and both local and Prefecture officials predict it will be all but impossible for them to make both premiums. They say it’s difficult now just to collect health insurance premiums. “More than 50% of the people in Okinawa pay only for health insurance,” says an official. “They don’t pay into the pension fund as well.”

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