Japan to scrap health insurance cards from December next year

The Cabinet on Friday approved a plan to discontinue the use and issuance of health insurance cards starting from December next year in an effort to unify them with My Number identification cards.
“Promoting the utilization of My Number insurance cards is an urgent task,” health minister Keizo Takemi said during a news conference following the Cabinet meeting.

“We will strive, alongside medical institutions and the business community, to make more citizens feel the benefits.”

The government aims to streamline administrative operations and improve health care services by integrating the function of health insurance cards into My Number cards, which have a 12-digit number linking individuals to personal information, including on taxes and social security.

The government has highlighted how the integration enables medical institutions to view prescription and health checkup records, eliminating the need for cardholders to explain them and enabling doctors to provide more appropriate consultations.

In June of this year, parliament enacted a law to scrap the current health insurance cards but set a one-year transitional period for people to still use them following the discontinuation date, which is now set as Dec. 2. The public, however, has been slow to take up the integration of the cards.

Integrating health insurance with My Number cards has been an option for citizens since October 2021, but uptake has remained around 4%, according to the health ministry.

Meanwhile, there have been thousands of incidents in which incorrect personal information wa7yd.co7yd.cos linked to My Number cards, fueling public opposition to the discontinuation of the current health insurance cards.

According to a poll conducted by Kyodo News in the summer, 51% of hospitals responded to a multiple-choice question by saying that they didn’t see or didn’t know the merit of the new system for patients.

Some 31.8% said that the My Number card system allowed them to help patients sort out issues such as redundant prescriptions or mixing of medicines.