Thanks to Global Health, Ronald Kessler’s Free Choice Foundation looking a little silly now

I blogged about this group a few weeks ago. They are the people who are agitating in Japan expat cyberspace, and elsewhere, for Japan not to apply its laws concerning universal health coverage.

If you read the earlier stuff, you’ll recall that Japan requires all residents (of whatever nationality) to be enrolled in the National Health Insurance (kokumin kenko hoken), or in the kousei kenko hoken portion of the Employers’ Social Insurance. There is another, rare, alternative whose name escapes me at the moment but includes the word kumi-ai.

Other than these, you are basically considered uninsured by the Japanese. Even if you have made alternative arrangements to pay the bill. Likely, this is because the bill is in effect a “buyer’s club” price (a price to members covered by the legitimate insurances). And anyone else is basically sneaking into the health care superstore and getting club member prices.

Today, while visiting another site, I learned that Global Health, one of the noted expat insurers that some expats use to get around the real rules, has very recently begun offering an authentic “gap” insurance policy.

Here is the brochure for Global Health’s Top-Up product.

The top-up product is designed to cover the 30% that the recognized Japanese insurance doesn’t cover. Additionally, it will pay a limited benefit to international clinics ($500), and in a few other situations. There is a modest deductible.

It is basically pure gap insurance. If I understand the rules in Japan, this is perfectly fine. You can cover for, and make a profit on, the 30% portion that people have to figure out themselves how to pay. It’s not paying the kokumin kenko hoken or kousei kenko hoken that’s the problem.

How much is that enhanced gap coverage? 250 US dollars. Payouts limited to $50,000 total.

If you travel overseas a lot, for another $170, you can get travel insurance, with a very high cap.

So an expat who does business all over the place can be extremely well covered on health insurance for an extra $420 a year.

This talk coming out the Ron Kessler group is thus a little silly. The part about how “the foreigners in Japan have these special neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeds! Our neeeeeeeeeeeeds!”

Well, your needs can be covered for an extra $420 a year, max. $250 if you don’t do much overseas travelling to countries other than your own.

I don’t see where this makes such a big excuse not to pay into Japanese kenko hoken. Plain English.

This goofy “burial insurance” got brought up again. Let me put that to rest.

“Burial insurance” is basically life insurance on you. You aren’t going to get buried unless you are first, well, dead. So it is something covered by life insurance.

I am a CPA in America, and a member of the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants). The Institute offers us sponsored life insurance, where, at my age, I could get $100,000 of coverage for $84 a year. This is before any rebate or dividend, which usually runs 45% of the premium. So net $46.20. I am 44 years old.

VivaVida!, as an example I’m picking on, is offering 10,000,000 yen life coverage for 22,800 yen a year. If we go with 100 JPY = 1 USD to make the math easy, VivaVida!’s $100,000 coverage is $228.00 a year. Term coverage—this is not whole life. (That is, you are not building cash value in the policy as you pay in.)

Now, you might say CPAs are healthier than the general population. But I’ve priced life coverage before, and the non-refund price with the CPA sponsored insurer is close to market. The $84 looks like a common price, and the actuarial advantage the CPAs have is in the 45% refund. So the generic market says $84 to cover a 44-year-old male. Versus $228.

And a burial wouldn’t cost $100,000, even with “evacuation of the body”. So . . .

Oh, oh! And this! If you pass away in Japan, your remains are probably first going to come into the hands of the keisatsu (police). They will probably contact your embassy and figure out how to get you on your final trip home.

I highly doubt the VivaVida! people are going to be contacted to send someone out to claim you. I doubt the keisatsu would turn you over. “Chief, Chief! The people from VivaVida! are here to collect the insured’s body and fly it home!” Yeah, right.

Sure, there will be a cost to move you. But life insurance will cover it. Because you will have already triggered the “insurable event”.

I am picking on Viva because they are the least candid of the lot about the real rules. Global Health appears to be the one most with the program at this point, since they made a gap product. For disclosure, I do no business with either of them, and am in a Japanese health insurance.

So the Free Choicers are crying about having to pay $250 more (or $420 plus a tiny amount extra for a life policy) in order to have that more comprehensive coverage. In reality, they don’t want to have pay a community charge that they’ve been dodging all along. That is to say, they want to continue to push those costs on to the rest of us.

To me, they don’t seem to be occupying the moral high-ground at the moment.