Japanese panel urges discounts to reward healthy lifestyles

A panel has proposed establishing a system within public health insurance that would reduce the insurance premiums and medical costs of people who take steps to safeguard their health.

A subcommittee of the government's Industrial Competitiveness Council submitted the proposal to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on Friday.

The goal is to hold down medical costs and boost the growth of health-related industries by rewarding people for such efforts as exercising and not smoking.

The subcommittee will hold discussions with the ministry, and aims to include the programme in the government growth strategy to be revised in June.

The proposal included the following possible indicators for reducing people's financial burden:

- Receiving special examinations for metabolic syndrome.

- Not smoking.

- Participating in exercise programs designated by one's health insurance association.

- Having low medical costs personally and among one's family.

- Not suffering from lifestyle-related ailments.

"We should provide financial incentives that reward people for working to improve their health," the proposal said.