Japan:1st medical plan with entry age up to 90 introduced

| 12 Jan 2018

With Japan facing an aging population and growing life expectancy, Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance has introduced the first healthcare insurance plan that allows for the enrollment of customers up to 90 years of age.

The new plan is available to those aged 50 to 90—the very first of its kind. The insurance company's plans to date had an upper age limit of 80 for entry, reported The Mainichi.

The insurance industry has long targeted working-age customers, but as customers face a "longevity risk" resulting in some of them not being able to pay their medical fees, the industry is on the verge of a shift in the types of plans it offers.

Customers enrolled in Meiji Yasuda's new plan can receive up to JPY100,000 (US$897) per hospitalisation and 50,000 per surgical operation. If customers choose a special provision adding roughly JPY100 to JPY500 to their monthly bill, then they are eligible to receive a total of up to JPY20 million to cover "advanced medical care" that is not covered by national public health insurance, such as the latest cataract surgery. Customers pay insurance premiums until 95.

The increase in the age for eligible enrollment in the medical insurance plan appears to be spurred by the growing need for health insurance among the elderly. The life expectancy for Japanese people has been rising each year, and it is estimated that by 2049, the population of centenarians will surpass 500,000.

The shift from "mortality" insurance to "longevity" insurance is also taking place at other insurance firms as well. In August 2013, insurance giant Aflac Japan extended the age of enrollment for lifetime healthcare insurance from 80 to 85.

Companies like Neo First Life Insurance, which operates under the Dai-ichi Life Group, and Medicare Life Insurance, under the Sumitomo Life Group umbrella, have also extended the enrollment age to 85, with a rough annual total of 9,000 new customers over the age of 80.

Another product attracting attention is the "tontine pension" plan. Under this plan, members pay into a fund, and if one member dies earlier, the amount of payments out of the fund provides extra benefits for those who live a longer time. Nippon Life Insurance, Dai-ichi Life Insurance and other insurers began selling the plans in 2016, and the number of contracts sold under the plan has since exceeded 50,000.

"Insurance plans that allow for the elderly to live their lives to the fullest are becoming more and more important," said the Meiji Yasuda representative.

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