Voices
in
Japan

have your say

What do you think of Japan's health insurance system?

36 Comments

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

36 Comments
Login to comment

Can't complaint so far. Here its a lot more organised compared to other nations.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Just include the premiums in income tax like some other countries with a public healthcare system do. The current system is as clear as mud when it comes to finding out how much your premiums are. Having it as a separate entity allows some people to avoid paying into it also. Then there's the whole back-payment disaster that some people get stung with and how it's based on your previous year's income, which makes it problematic for people with irregular work or those who have lost their job.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Good, but overpriced. Insanely so. ~10% of one's salary (at least here in Tokyo)? It's ridiculous having to pay private healthcare-level fees for essentially the bare minimum to survive here. Then you've got the self-entitled generation of seniors using ambulances like a taxi - 20,000 callouts in my area alone last year (which cost the taxpayer ¥50,000 a callout - you do the math), doctor visits like a weekly social & hospital stays like a home away from home. Japan has both the highest frequency of clinical visits (14+ times per year) AND longest average stays per capita (2 weeks+) in the world. It is simply unsustainable in its current form, as many healthcare professionals have told me on the quiet. I worry about the future for the younger generations.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

There is a lot of waste, teeth cleaning for example should take just one visit to the dentist. My husband's dentist has miraculously stretched this out to 7 weeks. That's right, 7 weeks for teeth cleaning, complete with injections. When asked about it the dentist explained that my husband's teeth are good, so he wants to clean them really well in order to keep them that way.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I think it is one of the best in the world. Just , please, add birth in it. Right now it doesn't cover the actual birth, only the pregnancy, and fees are ridiculous. Otherwise ... 500 yen for CT scan for my kid ( it costs usually about 20000 without insurance). Medicine for kids is free! In my country, you pay for it like everyone else and boy, isn't it costly! Some people end up treating their kids with tea!!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Don't need it....yet. Paying cash with no insurance at public hospitals is crazy cheap.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The actual service is quite good, BUT as many already point out there is TONS of WASTE of both time & $$$!!!

And the fact that the ""insurance"" is actually a TAX as its based on income isn't good.

And the way docs get you to return repeatedly is insanely wasteful all round & top it off with the over prescription we get so the docs get MORE kick backs.............again more waste.

And if you ever get REALLY SICK, like cancer etc you better have the supplementary insurance for hospital stays etc or your in for a HUGE BILL that can severely hurt you financially!!

Lots of areas need serious overhauls!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

From my experiences it was incredible. Was hospitalized for 6 days and ended up being over 100% reimbursed and completely rehabilitated in a private room. I could not imagine it gets better than that anywhere in the world, certainly not in my native Australia

2 ( +3 / -1 )

good. Problem is some of the local doctors are a bit wanting.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I think it is excellent and very affordable. But I still don't understand why some clinics (who seem to cater to rich expats) don't accept Japanese national health insurance.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sasoriza, birth is covered. They paid around 400,000 yen for each of my two kids, which is usually enough to cover the hospital fees unless you go somewhere expensive like Red Cross

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@smartacus

I think it is excellent and very affordable. But I still don't understand why some clinics (who seem to cater to rich expats) don't accept Japanese national health insurance.

That one's easy. No paper trail. Most of those clinics are purely cash businesses. In essence, they charge what they like. They even have seminars here in Tokyo on how to manage all that cash!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The system is pretty good. I like being able to choose my own doctor and get seen quickly; unlike in the UK. I just wish the doctors and nurses in Japan were better trained, and the facilities were more modern....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

the problem is that insurance only pays for approved treatments which are quite old tech. if you want the latest greatest, insurance pays nothing.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Please keep in mind that the cost is based on your income from the previous year except for the first year you are here and I do not know how they figure that out. But if you are working for someone, they pay 50% of it. So, if you plan to retire, be aware that if you stay here, you will have to pay 100% of the premiums based on the salary from a year before.

The more money you make the higher your premiums will be whether you get divorced, or your kids move out or your spouse dies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I grew up under the NHS so coming to Japan and being expected to pay 30% came as a bit of a shock at first, but all in all I think it's pretty good. Can't say I've really had that much cause to put much of a dent in the system; one bout of appendicitis, a bit of asthma and otherwise the normal things for the kiddies. It's nice knowing that a major illness will not put you and the family out on the street.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wrembreck, you are absolutely spot on about the teeth cleaning, it's so frustrating having to keep on going back it just makes me not want to get it done.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Just , please, add birth in it.

Agreed. Part of the problem holding couples back from having kids.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The proof is in the pudding, and Japan's longevity and high level of happiness is in part due to their excellent (overall) medical system. It's a shameful fact that I, an American blogger, can't even write about Japan's healthcare system without being attacked as being a "communist" for thinking that the approach of Japan (and the UK, and Canada) clearly brings the best result.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

So, if you plan to retire, be aware that if you stay here, you will have to pay 100% of the premiums based on the salary from a year before.

This is incorrect.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@spanki and wrembreak

Agree! One tip I have for this is to go to a new dentist and when they ask why you came to chance upon their place, tell them that you are unhappy with the last dentist stealing your money. Going back 5-7 times for cleaning is being taken for a ride! If you add up that they want about ¥1000 or more each time, the cost of teeth cleaning without insurance apparently is $600-$800!!! After hearing about my last experience my current dentist miraculously did in ONE sitting and has done that the last 3 times lol.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I always find it interesting when people claim Japan's taxes are so much lower than other nations to defend potential increases or just when defensive, but don't ever take into account that in a number of other nations things like health care, unemployment, and other taxes are all included whereas you pay them all separately in Japan. As such, while health care here is pretty good, it is insanely overpriced, and it's only set to go up with the way the government is handling public money and the population ageing and with no replacements. Mine went up 20% from last year for no discernible reason.

Also, they need to stop relying on paper cards, and let in third party insurance for people who want to cover the other 30% that is not covered by the national health insurance, or by those who are travelling or just living here for a short period but don't wish to pay into the domestic plans.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Dentists are the worst, don't be afraid to try others if one seems flaky or fishy, because they often ARE! When we moved about 10yrs back there was a dentists office a short walk away, great, that should work nice.

My wife needed a tooth replaced, right when the prep was done for the final visit to install the dentist informs my wife he will be putting is a tooth NOT covered & to bring an extra Y70,000 next visit. FRACK that she went to the old dentist a few times to do the deed even though it was now quite far away & at ZERO extra costs. Needless to say we never went back!!

It's nice knowing that a major illness will not put you and the family out on the street.

Cleo, be sure you have your supplementary insurance if you end up with a lengthy stay it can be costly & not all is covered & can get quite substantial !!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Very good. For really exotic chronic problems you might do better in the UK but for ordinary things the Japanese system is far better than that of the UK and much faster.

I don't know where people manage to find dentists that require seven visits for cleaning. Mine does it in two. That's fine with me.

Last week I had a molar break. I went to the clinic to make an appointment. He had an opening. He replaced the filling that had failed and allowed the tooth to crack, took an impression for a crown, and put in place a temporary covering. Thirty minutes. About 1,500 yen. I get the crown fitted next week. Based on past experience, a couple of thousand yen.

I've had the same guy do root canal work. Same number of visits as when I had similar work done in the UK.

Japan has a surplus of dentists. It may pay to shop around. In my case, my wife asked around. The dentist I now use had good recommendations from a number of people. They were right.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I'm writing this comment in response to my foreign friend. My foreign friend who is a resident in Japan, pays tax and has the medical insurance, is extremely happy with his insurance. He says it is much much better than any country out there currently and other than the old Russian care system, or the US system Japan is way ahead. He gladly pays his portion and has used the system and just loved the experience, care and the entire system. I have to agree having seen and heard about the horrors in healthcare across the globe.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

bjohnson23

You obviously don't know much about the world of health care. Japanese is not bad. But even a poorish country like Thailand is more affordable for its population, less wasteful and of a high standard.

I will not mention Canada and Europe because there is no comparison.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If you are not a full time slave it can be very expensive, especially if you earn decent money (¥40,000 - ¥50,000 every month, ouch.) If you are lucky enough not to be on the system don't join it, just pay cash whenever you have to go to a hospital.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's amazing how many people don't know the difference between healthcare and health insurance.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

At least they have a health insurance system. My country is the only Western country that DOESN'T.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It may be good and economical for those who are not blessed with good health, otherwise it is too expensive ( lifetime mandatory monthly medical premium and subsequent medical cost per visit).

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I think for the most part, it's very good, compared to my native country, especially if you have kids. My kids are taken cared of at a very low rate. It also works well, it you have to go to the hospital for surgeries plus stays. With the exception of breakfast, my hospital meals were great. Some of them looked and tasted almost like restaurant quality. In my native country, the food is bland, on plastic dishes. I do agree that the dental portion can be improved. It should only take one time for a teeth cleaning and no more than two times for fillings.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It may be good and economical for those who are not blessed with good health, otherwise it is too expensive ( lifetime mandatory monthly medical premium and subsequent medical cost per visit).

Yeah, 10% of one's income is pretty high. I know we all tend to need more medical care as we age, but why can't they run the system like any other health insurance agency where if you make no claims you get a discount on premiums, and as you age, premiums go up slightly? 20 years from now may be a different story, but up until now I have never needed hundreds of dollars worth of medical insurance a month. Fingers crossed I stay that way, but like everyone else, I find myself going to clinics for things that aren't that serious just so I feel I get something out of the system. Problem is, loads of people in Japan do this so clinics are packed and going to the doctor takes a chunk out of your day.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

In the States where I come from a major illness can and often does wipe out families. My wife got sick a few years ago and it was then I learned how good the Japanese health and insurance system is. Yes, it is a bit expensive but you can sleep well at night knowing that when you get sick--and you will one day---that you won't have to choose between getting treated or going homeless.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Excellent! For me growing up in the States this is like finding the golden city of El Dorado.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I do agree that the dental portion can be improved. It should only take one time for a teeth cleaning and no more than two times for fillings.

but..the chances are you may complete your home-loan faster than dental treatment in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is very good. Covers just about everything and very affordable.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites