BioScience Trends. 2018;12(1):7-11. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2017.01271)
Japan's healthcare policy for the elderly through the concepts of self-help (Ji-jo), mutual aid (Go-jo), social solidarity care (Kyo-jo), and governmental care (Ko-jo).
Sudo K, Kobayashi J, Noda S, Fukuda Y, Takahashi K
Elderly care is an emerging global issue threatening both developed and developing countries. The elderly in Japan increased to 26.7% of the population in 2015, and Japan is classified as a super-aged society. In this article, we introduce the financial aspects of the medical care and welfare services policy for the elderly in Japan. Japan's universal health insurance coverage system has been in place since 1961. Long-term care includes welfare services, which were separated from the medical care insurance scheme in 2000 when Japan was already recognized as an aging society. Since then, the percentage of the population over 65 has increased dramatically, with the productive-age population on the decrease. The Japanese government, therefore, is seeking to implement "The Community-based Integrated Care System" with the aim of building comprehensive up-to-the-end-of-life support services in each community. The system has four proposed elements: self-help (Ji-jo), mutual aid (Go-jo), social solidarity care (Kyo-jo), and government care (Ko-jo). From the financial perspective, as the government struggles against the financial burdens of an aging population, they are considering self-help and mutual aid. Based on Japan's present situation, both elements could lead to positive results. The Japanese government must also entrust the responsibility for implementing preventive support to municipalities through strongly required regional autonomy. As Japan has resolved this new challenge through several discussions over a long period of time, other aging countries could learn from the Japanese experience of solving barriers to healthcare policy for the elderly.