Healthcare in Japan is almost free for all citizens including expatriates and foreigners. All residents in Japan are required by law to have health insurance coverage.
The Healthcare system in Japan provides screening examinations, prenatal care and infectious disease control with the patient paying 10%, 20% or 30% of the cost and the rest paid by the government through local and national bodies. Also, monthly thresholds are set for each household, depending on income and age, and medical fees exceeding the threshold are waived off or reimbursed by the government. The downside for uninsured patients is to pay 100% of their medical fees. Fees are waived for low-income households receiving government subsidy. Fees are also waived for homeless people when they are brought to the hospital by ambulance
Payment for personal medical services are offered through a system called Universal Healthcare. This system ensures equality of access along with a set fees fixed by particular government community. The healthcare units in Japan like the hospitals and nursing homes are prohibited by law to be operating as profit making units. This means that profit making corporations are not allowed to own or operate the hospitals. The private clinics have to be owned and operated by the physicians.
Cost of Health Services :
Even in the time of rising costs in health services across countries, the government in Japan has kept a tight check on the health industry to stagger and rein in costs. Every two years the fees for all health care services are set by negotiations between the health ministry and physicians. The negotiations determine the fees applicable for each health related service, and this fee is then adopted across the country identically. The government also has stringent control over the practice of overprescribing by doctors.
Medical Services :
The average Japanese has a penchant for availing of healthcare services far more than any other country for relatively minor problems. Studies reveal that on average Japanese visits the hospital more than four times as often as an average American. This creates an issue as it leads to a shortage of medical resources. The problem has become a major concern in Japan particularly in Tokyo. A report has shown more than 14000 emergency patients were rejected at least three times by hospitals in Japan before getting proper treatment.
Health Insurance in Japan :
Health Insurance is mandatory for residents of Japan. However about 10% of the total population do not enroll to it and pay 100% fees for the healthcare services availed of by them. A structure of Universal health Insurance is followed in Japan depending on whether one is visiting, studying or working, age and other important factors. The monthly premiums are calculated on the basis of salary.
There are two broad categories of Health Insurance in Japan, both of which have further subcategories to cater to people from all walks of life.
- Employees’ Health Insurance
- National Health Insurance.
Employees’ Health insurance is subdivided into different subcategories and caters to people working in the private schools, national and local government bodies, and in medium or large companies. The Employers provide a certificate to the staff and the premiums are calculated on the basis of their salary.
People who have lived in Japan for more than a year, and are not covered by the Employees health insurance, are obliged to apply for the National Health Insurance. For this purpose a person has to produce the Alien registration Card. This card contains the basic personal information of the foreign national like his /her name, resident status and currently allowed period of stay besides the photograph.