Japan health insurance: internet stirring up

The other day, the Japan Times put out the non-news that the Japanese immigration bureau isn’t going to be denying peoples’ visas for failing to enroll in the Health Insurance (kokumin kenko hoken) and Pension Plan (kokumin nenkin).

Just to recap, sometime a few years back, the Government decided to put a rule in–came to be known as “Guideline 8”–that people had interpreted to be a requirement to enroll in Japanese health and pension insurances. The actual requirement is off in the ordinary laws of Japan. Guideline Eight was just a statement to the immigration officials to say that they should make sure that a visa renewer had these coverages.

Sometime last summer–after the Guideline 8 broke through the Japan Times and the Osaka General Union—there was a mini-panic of sorts among people here who aren’t properly enrolled. A protest group arose via a man who is clearly involved with the sellers of private gap insurance here in Japan, although his own pecuniary gain is not exactly tied down. The strongest evidence is that he receives money to provide the internet support for an American company’s local selling of private gap insurance. An alternative is that he benefits from the fact that Japan weakly enforces its laws, and he would be at a disadvantage if Japan started enforcing its law.

The excuse handed out, via the “Free Choice Foundation”, is that people should have a “choice” to be gap-insured. (Apparently, until they really need comprehensive coverage.) In this way, the line makes Japan look bad and the American gap insurer and their cronies here look like the defenders of “freedom”.

Most commentators on the internet saw through that nonsense argument long ago. It’s clear that the people who hold gap insurance get to free ride until such time as they need comprehensive coverage—and then the rest of us who are legitimately paying in cover for them. I did some extra digging (CPA in me) to determine that Ron Kessler’s tie is to “Health One” here, a brand offered through a Texas specialty insurance company.

Debito.org pre-published a letter-to-the-editor to the Japan Times, one that criticizes the paper for its one-sided coverage of the Free Choice’s wrangling with the bureaucrats, and points out the limbo that many who would have followed the rule but were honestly misguided find themselves in. A third theme is the fact that since the government tolerates the Health One’s of Japan and their antics, it makes it that much harder, for those non-Japanese who are here to play by the rules and expect the rules to cover them, that all of this makes things.

If I am still around, it will be interesting to see how all of this plays out. Frankly, I don’t see why Health One hasn’t had its right to do business in Japan suspended, and a knock or two made on the door of Ron Kessler, to ask why he has been busy undermining Japanese laws.

As an aside, I think that’s why the site, (Japan) National Health Insurance Watch, disappeared so quickly in December. It was basically telling people how to commit crimes to disenroll from the real health insurance here. And it had been run off the cqdx.com server the same as Free Choice Foundation and Health One. See my earlier posts.

Like I said, at the end of the day, it’s no skin off my ass if you decide to follow the actual rules or follow the Texas-connected Pied Piper off to a reality where you will have to worry about whether your local ward is going to hit you for back payments in the future.

But it looks really clear, that no matter how these one or two independent dealers out there are trying to spin the situation, the reality is that the Japanese are going to want their law followed. You may be able to cut deals or some slack, but you’re going to have to do it with the Japanese. (That is, your local ward gets to say.)

You should not take advice from strangers on the internet who very clearly have an interest in leading you the wrong way. (As if I have to tell you this.)

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