Use of the My Number card for health insurance companies still restricted

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The Japanese government is making efforts to popularize an online health insurance eligibility certification system as part of its efforts to promote the use of My Number social security and tax identification cards.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare fully launched an online system for using the cards as public health insurance cards in October last year. However, as of mid-February, only about 17% of medical facilities nationwide accepted My Number cards for health insurance.

The system is intended to simplify reception at the counter for holders of My Number cards and contribute to improving health management by exchanging information with doctors. In order to make the benefits available to the general public, the government needs to encourage a large increase in the number of medical institutions accepting My Number cards for health insurance, as well as make greater efforts to popularize the system.

The government is aiming for almost all citizens to receive their My Number cards by the end of fiscal year 2022, on March 31, 2023. In addition to launching the online management system, the government plans to integrate the cards with driver’s licenses and install them on smartphones.

To use My Number cards as health insurance cards, holders must register on the government’s My Number Portal website, while medical facilities and drugstores require card readers to identify holders through facial authentication.

Cardholders can then view information on the portal page, including the history of their prescribed medications, health screening results, and a detailed breakdown of the medical expenses they have paid. With the consent of the holders, doctors and pharmacists can share information about them, enabling efficient medical examinations and prescriptions based on accurate data.

When the online system was fully operational, only about 8% of medical facilities and drugstores were willing to accept My Number cards, despite increased government promotional campaigns beforehand.

Although more than 50% of these facilities are willing to accept My Number cards as health insurance cards, they are currently too busy treating COVID-19 infections to make the necessary computer system preparations. Additionally, due to the global shortage of semiconductors needed for devices to operate the online system, the government remains unable to increase this usage.

As traditional health insurance certificates continue to be accepted, the number of people who are willing to go through the enrollment procedures to use their My Number card for health insurance is limited. Many medical institutions and drugstores are taking a wait-and-see attitude to gauge how much use of the online system will increase, a health ministry official said.

On February 13, 17.3% of institutions were connected to the online system. Many of them welcome the system and find that faster access to patient information has reduced office workloads.

By highlighting such responses, the government hopes to meet its goal of having all facilities adopt the system by the end of fiscal year 2022.

The government has also launched a program to provide 7,500 yen worth of points for use in non-cash payments to every My Number cardholder upon registration for the online system.

Meanwhile, the government faces a challenge to allay citizens’ concerns about card loss and personal information leakage.

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