Japan's public medical insurance can cover foreigners regardless of nationality. Regular foreign employees with Japanese firms are obligated to carry a public health insurance policy. In addition, those who expect to stay in Japan for more than one year must purchase national health insurance.
Regarding the purchase of public insurance, MCA points out: first, employers, not wanting to pay premiums for foreign workers despite their eligibility for public insurance, may let them purchase national health insurance; and second, 40-80 percent of those eligible for public insurance have yet to purchase national health insurance because of the municipalities' failure to know the exact number of foreign workers. Furthermore, MCA recommends that corporations and local governments expound on the health insurance system to encourage foreign workers to participate.
Responding to the MCA recommendation, the Ministry of Health and Welfare will notify individual prefectures during fiscal 1992 that municipalities be given a full understanding of such criteria as "foreigners who are expected to stay in Japan for over a year." The municipalities serve as a window for foreigners to go through procedures for purchasing national health insurance. Moreover, the Ministry will ask them to inform aliens of the need to carry a national health insurance policy when applying for alien registration certificates.
Meanwhile, to cope adequately with those cases in which employers do not want to pay premiums for their foreign employees and who fail to have them insured under health insurance, the Ministry will strengthen its guidance of firms. Furthermore, it will take stop-gap measures to deal with the possible entanglement of problems between labor and management regarding the issue of whether or not foreign workers should carry a national health insurance policy. The Ministry is studying methods to incorporate these measures into the circular notice.
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