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Tuesday, March 16, 2004

LIFELINES

Citizenship and health insurance


Citizenship

I am a holder of a valid Philippines passport and have permanent residence status here in Japan, where I have lived for at least 18 years. I would like to apply for citizenship.

I am separated from my husband for almost six years already and I don't know his whereabouts. I am not legally divorced yet.

We should divide it into two parts -- first your marriage/divorce and second your citizenship.

These days it has become relatively easier to take up Japanese citizenship.

In your case, your husband is Japanese and you have been here for over 10 years, so the main requirements for applying for citizenship are met.

However, the situation is more complicated in light of your marriage situation. If you want to apply for citizenship, it is best to do so while still married. The most important item, however, is to contact your husband to get his signature on the paperwork.

Regarding lawyers, I would recommend Mr. Inomoto at (03) 3582-7482. He is an Immigration Attorney and one of the best in the field. Also Mr. Nakai at (03) 6402-7654. These both can make the arrangements to help you with your citizenship and related affairs.

Health Insurance I

I wonder if, when one must pay two years' past premiums to join the National Health Insurance plan, one can be reimbursed for medical expenses incurred during those past two years.

Technically you can be reimbursed for expenses you had during those two years. You will need receipts for payments made to the hospitals. Remember, though that insurance only pays 70 percent of the fee -- also, at the end of the day the final decision is up to your local city office.

Health Insurance II

A couple of years ago, my national health insurance charge went up from 3,400 yen to 4000 yen. No problem. Then in fall 2002, it shot up to 24,000 yen. The explanation given to me at the ward office was "You live here now," whatever that means.

I am way behind in payments and must get my health insurance card renewed every three months instead of the customary two years. I have been making a monthly 24,000 yen payment since last fall so I could get my card renewed, but it's very rough on me with my English teacher's salary. Anyway, I think this is not normal.

The National Health Insurance program is geared to providing complete health insurance to everybody within the context of a sliding scale.

It is calculated each year as a percentage of your "juminzei" or local tax.

Simply put -- the National Health Insurance Program is set up with a minimum of 2,450 yen payment, with everybody paying about two times what they pay in local tax, which is calculated based on your income. This rate -- for this year it's 2.04 percent -- is decided each year, so it does change every 12 months.

Ken Joseph Jr. directs The Japan Helpline at www.jhelp.com or 0570 000 911 Send your queries, questions, problems and posers, to: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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