HEALTH SPENDING FOR ELDERLY RISING IN JAPAN
Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has reported that national medical spending rose an estimated 2% last year to JPY31.4trn (US$283.63bn). This was the highest-ever total in Japan and, for the first time, over 40% of spending was on the medical costs of the elderly. Japan has the highest life expectancy for men and women in the world. By 2009, it is predicted that average life expectancy in the country will reach 82 years. The health ministry estimates that in 2025 demand from the elderly population will account for 50% of healthcare spending in the country.
Curbing healthcare costs is a priority for the Japanese government. The ageing
population is driving an increase in demand for healthcare, yet, due to the
weakness of the economy, insurance premiums are stagnating. As a result, the
government is reported to be considering lowering the age at which insurance
premiums are payable to include those in their 20's and 30's. In 2003, the level
of co-payments from salaried workers was increased from 20% to 30%.