Over 10,000 construction workers and family thought to be without health insurance

Over 10,000 people who joined a public health insurance program for self-employed construction workers even though they were not qualified to are thought to be without health insurance now, it has been learned.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry found in its investigation in June 2010 that 12,252 policyholders of Zenkoku Kensetsu Kojigyo Kokumin Kenko Hoken Kumiai (Kojigyo Kokuho), a health insurance association for self-employed construction workers, were not actually qualified to join the program.

In many cases, employees of construction firms joined it by posing as self-employed construction workers or construction company owners had joined it by falsely describing themselves as self-employed individuals.

In September last year, the ministry instructed Kojigyo Kokuho to transfer 9,272 of the unqualified policyholders to the Japan Health Insurance Association for employees of small and medium-sized companies or other health insurance programs.

Of the policyholders, 3,970 completed the procedures for shifting to the Japan Health Insurance Association program. Another 1,800 individuals have shifted or are set to shift to public health insurance programs for self-employed people including farmers, forestry workers and fishermen.

However, about 6,500 others failed to shift to the Japan Health Insurance Association program by the June 2011 deadline. Since their old health insurance card expired in June this year, they and their family members, totaling more than 10,000 people, are highly likely to be covered by no health insurance program now.

Companies as well as individuals who employ at least five people are legally required to join public social insurance programs and split premiums for health insurance and employees’ pension programs evenly with their employees.

However, many construction firms joined Kojigyo Kokuho after being falsely told by association officials that companies were also qualified to join it. Moreover, other companies had their employees join the association by posing as self-employed construction workers, thereby evading paying premiums for their employees’ pension program.