The Elderly Care Service Insurance System was enforced with the government’s catchphrase ‘to make elderly care a pubic service’. But today it has been converted seriously to a system in which users are less protected and required to take responsibility of their own. The scheme deteriorates: it will demand users to pay 30% of the actual cost. The 7th round of plan of the insurance system will start from the next fiscal and the decision will be implemented. The policy is fraud on the state level.
ELDERLY CARE SERVICE SYSTEM UNDERMINED ? GOVERNMENT ABANDONS RESPONSIBILITY
Repetition of Makeshift Policies
A bill to undermine the Elderly Care Service Insurance System was approved on May 26, by which a region-based care system and sustainability of the insurance system are emphasized.
Reinforcement of sustainability clearly means for users to pay more and to get less access to services. A region-based care system sounds beautiful and promising, but, it means the state government abandons its responsibility. In the previous revision of the system, services rendered to those who need slight assistances were removed away from the insurance system to be transferred to a job of municipalities. The insurance system is further diluted.
The policy is to convert a public service to a solution of individuals. The government will even grant to municipalities that will grade down the standard of services. It is easily conceivable that the municipality authority will make stricter judgment to recipients.
In 1989 the government introduced a consumption tax system on the ground to cope with the coming graying society. It was raised to 5% in 1997 from the initial 3%; the government told to use the tax money to take care of the elderly. But then it, after being harshly accused of, scrapped the pledge to introduce an insurance system to support public service. Thus, the elderly program began, relying on insurance money.
I paid, but no benefit
The New Socialist Party opposed at that time the bill to introduce the insurance plan, and insisted the public service should be maintained by national budget, anticipating that ‘people could not enjoy services even though they pay insurance premiums’.
Today the monthly premium for citizens older than 65 years of age amounts 5,514 Yen on the average, which was surged from the initial average of 2,911 Yen, being 1.9 times more expensive. The consumption tax has been in fact used to cover revenue decreases from the corporate taxes and income taxes of the rich. The government implemented a policy called ‘a comprehensive reform of taxes and public services’ as a means to heighten the rate of consumption tax.
Meanwhile, old people wait in a queue to enter a care service facility. After the previous aggravation, eligibility was limited to those classified in the groups of Degree 3, 4 and 5. And low-income users were obliged to pay more.
Today the Abe government loudly voices ‘nobody leaves job due to elderly care’ behind the unhelpful policy. His phrase has proven to be an empty slogan.
The government has offered a region-based service system: residents should take care of local senior citizens. This means that municipalities owe bigger burdens to engage in more complexities. Care service companies face more difficulties in management and care workers are forced to work in harsher conditions.
Everyone Will Pay 30% of Cost
The Elderly Care Service Act is revised to impose on the retired whose income is as high as incumbent workers to pay 30% of the cost of services. It is a hike from the previous level of 20%. The payment rate will soon be applied to everyone as is seen in the health care system.
The revised policy sets the maximum monthly payment as 40,400 Yen per household. But high-income users will be required to pay more.
A new payment system similar to the health insurance system will start in coming August for those between 40 and 64 years of age, who are less needy of services.
A vicious circle of heavier burdens and limited services must be ended. To this aim the state government should be responsible for elderly care service. It must use financial resources gained from imposing right, proportionate taxes on corporate bodies and the rich.
June 6, 2017