社会保障工程案 持続可能な制度へ必要な道筋

The Yomiuri Shimbun August 23, 2013
Social security reform bill must show path for sustainable system
社会保障工程案 持続可能な制度へ必要な道筋(8月22日付・読売社説)

Reforms to make the nation’s social security system sustainable must cover a wide variety of areas. It is important for the government to prioritize each area to steadily carry out reform measures.

The government has approved in a Cabinet meeting the gist of a bill on social security system reform measures, which outlines a schedule for reforms. The government will submit the bill to an extraordinary Diet session in autumn.

Based on a report compiled by the National Council on Social Security System Reform, the bill indicates plans and timetables for the reform of medical care, nursing care, the pension system and measures to deal with the low birthrate.

The main focus of the reforms is to change the current social security system, in which the younger, working generation bears most of the burden of supporting the elderly, to one in which all generations proportionately share the burden.

Given that the burden of the working generation will become heavier and heavier along with the low birthrate, it is unavoidable to ask elderly and high-income earners to bear more of the burden than they do now in order to maintain the social security system. In this sense we praise the stance of the current administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to tackle reform measures the previous administrations avoided.

One such measure is to raise the share of medical expenses paid by people aged 70 to 74. Law revisions made in 2008 stipulate that people in this age group pay 20 percent of medical costs, but the then administration of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito kept it at 10 percent as a special measure. The share has remained at 10 percent since then.

However, the gist of the bill gives a great deal of latitude over the timing of raising the percentage to the legally stipulated level: sometime between fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2017. The measure should be reviewed as early as possible, taking into consideration that ¥200 billion of tax money is spent annually on the special measure.

Regarding the nursing care insurance program, the current across-the-board self-pay rate of paying 10 percent for nursing care services will be raised for high-income earners from fiscal 2015. On the other hand, the premiums for low-income elderly will be reduced.

Fairness among the elderly

There is a large disparity in incomes among the elderly. It is appropriate to increase the burden on high-income earners and reduce that of low-income earners as a way to seek fairness among the elderly.

Concerning pension reform, the bill lists some reform measures requiring further study, but only says, “Necessary measures will be carried out after studying these measures.” The government did not make clear when it will carry out pension reform, probably because it will take time to design concrete reform measures.

The report of the national council made clear the direction of social security reform, such as increasing tax on pensioners with high incomes and introducing a mechanism to hold down pension benefits in response to changes in wage levels even in a deflationary period.

People who live on pensions are subject to large tax deductions and can receive greater net incomes than salaried workers receiving the same gross income. To lessen young generations’ sense of being imposed on, it is necessary to impose a heavier tax on high-income earners.

It is indispensable to hold down the payments pensioners receive to stabilize the pension system.

If the government cannot even say when to carry out such important reform, we doubt the sustainability of the pension system.

To formulate concrete pension reform measures, the government must quickly study when to carry out pension reform.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 22, 2013)
(2013年8月22日01時22分 読売新聞)


srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク



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