Gambling Addiction in Japan to Be Covered by Public Health Insurance

Japan is still on track with its plans to launch a gambling industry despite a few setbacks that have gotten in the way of progress. The issue of gambling in the country has been very controversial with many people citing serious concerns regarding the establishment of integrated resorts in three Japanese prefectures. Recent bribery allegations and scandals made things even worse by affirming the claims that the gambling industry would create room for corruption and crime.

One other thorny issue that has come up consistently revolves around gambling-related harm. It goes without saying that this is a pretty serious issue and, thankfully, the authorities have been looking into it. Recent reports from local media reveal that the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has recently and reviewed a list of proposals.

The proposals in question outlined recommendations for public health insurance treatments and they happen to include clauses about gambling addiction. Drafted by the Central Social Insurance Medical Council, the proposals suggested among other things group therapy for gambling addicts. Health Minister Katsunobu Kato then proceeded to announce that gambling addiction treatment will now be covered by public health insurance.

Dealing with An Existing Problem

While it may seem like the decision is meant to ease some of the anti-gambling concerns, it is, in fact, an overdue move. The integrated casinos are not yet up and running but there are already significant cases of gambling-related harm reported in Japan.

A survey conducted just a couple of years ago to understand gambling culture in the country revealed that over 3 million people are classifiable as gambling addicts. Things have not gotten any better as the ministry of health believes that up to 700,000 people in the country could be gambling addicts.

More Long-Term Solutions

In addition to having gambling addiction treatment as part of public health insurance, there are also plans for the establishment of facilities for victims of gambling-related harm. As it stands, a total of 35 clinics are ready for use and more facilities could be up and running before the end of the first quarter of 2021. There are also plans for support frameworks and measures to ensure that the addicts do not backslide after treatment.

“Gambling addicts need to submit to a follow-up program on a long-term basis. There are many people who have not sought treatment. It is important to have them undergo therapy and rein in the number of patients,” an addiction health expert commented.

Treating addictions can be very expensive and therefore new insurance coverage will definitely go a long way in solving the addiction problem. It might also serve to bring more people on board with the idea of the benefits of the proposed integrated resorts.

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