Health care in Japan


Healthcare in Japan – an Introduction

With ever-rising cost of healthcare, many Americans are looking for some alternative options for healthcare which could be a bit affordable for them. Japan could well be one of those options that you have been searching for. Healthcare in Japan has got the standard, yet is affordable at the same time. In Japanese healthcare system, healthcare services are provided free by the local and national governments. Not only that, the screening examination for some specific diseases as well as prenatal care and infectious disease control services are also provided free. So, if you are looking for overseas options for healthcare, Japan could surely be one of those.

The biggest advantage of healthcare in Japan is the use of technology. Japan is the land of technology and hence, they apply the same in all the fields including the medical service. The instruments used in most of the hospitals in Japan have latest technologies. With the growing number of patients, within the country as well as from outside, the government has already started working for maintaining the high standard that they have already set for medical services. The initiative includes establishing new hospitals, increasing the capacity of the existing ones and improvement of the infrastructure.

Japanese Healthcare System

The healthcare system in Japan is highly regulated by the local and national government. It offers screening examinations for a list of diseases free of cost. The system is also quite good for chronic area as well as in prenatal care. The country also offers long-term care through a public insurance system to all the older people.

The Japanese healthcare system also combines private provision of health services with compulsory health insurance. The insurers pay directly to the service providers. For outpatient care, the basis of payment is fee for service, while for inpatient care, payment is based on a mixture of fee for service and per diem. Usually, patients have to bear 20 to 30% fees as co-payments. However, the effective co-payment rate with a ceiling remains around 14%.

The healthcare providers in Japan are regional / national public hospitals or private hospitals. Patients get universal access to all the facilities. However, hospitals may charge higher if you don’t have any referral.

Health Insurance in Japan

Health insurance in Japan is mandatory for the Japanese. In Japan, there are two main categories of health insurance available, viz. Social Health Insurance or Kenko-Hoken and National Health Insurance or Kokumin-Kenko-Hoken. The later one is usually earmarked for the students and self-employed persons. The fees for medical services are paid through a universal health care insurance system. There is also government-sponsored insurance program which covers all elderly people.

Points of Concerns

Though there are several pluses in healthcare in Japan, however, the country certainly has got some drawbacks in healthcare, which if can be overcome, would make the country more popular as a formidable medical tourism destination in the world. Though a number of new hospitals are coming up regularly, however there are still some areas where hospital services are inadequate. There is also shortage of doctors in some areas in Japan. The consultation time is also a significant problem for the patients, as you may have to wait in a long queue in the hospital.