Health Insurance & Your Visa - Government backs down

The Japan Times recently reported that the visa renewal guideline requiring proof of enrollment in 'legally' acceptable health insurance will be removed. The union has not yet been able to confirm this with ministry officials. However,it appears that this stipulation will now read, “"In order to promote signing up for social insurance, we will ask (foreign residents) to present their health insurance card starting April 1. We will not reject renewal or change of visa status for failing to present the card." Even though you will have to show proof of enrollment in health insurance it appears this should not prevent you from renewing your visa.

The summer edition of the National Union Voice reported that General Union officials met with immigration officials to ask about the new requirements last year. We also made our opposition to the new rules known.

Our point with immigration was NOT that foreign workers should not be enrolled in health and pension insurance. Our concern was that workers should not be punished in cases where employers fail to enroll them in Shakai Hoken/Shigaku Kyosai. Immigration thought that the union was there asking for leniency in following the health and pension insurance laws; in fact, the union was asking for a crack down on employers that are putting our members’ visas, health, and futures at risk. (read the full story)

Is this change a victory for workers? No. There still isn’t anything to celebrate because nothing has really changed. The only people able to celebrate this change are the companies that will no longer feel compelled to offer Shakai Hoken (Employee Health and Pension Insurance) or risk losing their employees.

As no one knows what the change will actually mean, and it’s still in the guidelines we are concerned about how immigration will treat you if you attempt to renew your visa and basically have to admit that you are violating Japanese law by not being enrolled in health insurance.

The best way to deal with this problem is for the General Union to win its demands for enrollment of all workers in the much more beneficial Shakai Hoken/Shigaku Kyosai system. This will mean that no one will have to worry about violating the law and putting their visa at risk. 

Take a quick true and false quiz to see what has really changed

Question 1.
Foreigners will no longer have to be enrolled on a Japanese public health insurance plan (Shakai Hoken, Shigaku Kyosai, Kokumin Kenko Hoken, etc.).
True
False

Question 2.
If you’re not on a public health insurance plan, but later decide to join, there are no penalties.
True
False

Question 3.
You will now have the free choice to join either a public or private insurance plan of your choice.
True
False


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