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Gov't to hike some medical fees to relieve overcrowding at large hospitals

24 Comments

An advisory panel to the health ministry on Friday proposed a set of revisions to the system of how medical fees are paid to hospitals and clinics. The aim of the revisions is to prevent large hospitals from being congested with outpatients.

From April 2013, first-time patients who go to a large hospital without a referral will have to pay a part of the fee. It will not be covered by health insurance, NHK reported.

If the first-visit fee is not covered by insurance, patients who normally pay 30% of costs will have to pay an additional 490 yen as a first-time visit fee.

The health ministry hopes to encourage people with less serious ailments to go to smaller clinics so hospitals can concentrate on patients with serious illnesses.

Other measures include the allocation of 150 billion yen to promote at-home care, which is expected to become vital amid Japan's aging population, NHK said.

The panel also recommended hiking fees by up to 4,000 yen for triage at night and in the early mornings when medical professionals and care givers need to prioritize care.

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24 Comments
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Good excuse if not reduce medicine prices simultaneously.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Several years ago I went to a Tokyo hospital without referral and again to another about a year back - I had to pay around 5000yen for a first time fee, so I actaully thought this was already common practice.

Problem is, the only time i've needed to go to hospital was at night, it couldn't wait til the clinics were open but was urgent enough to get immediate attention so for this reason I think " out of hours" should be treated differently.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A simple way to relieve overcrowding is to set a deductible of say 3,000 yen before insurance can kick in. That way less people will be tempted to go to a doctor for a common cold.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Good excuse if not reduce medicine prices simultaneously.

Medicine prices here are some of the lowest on the planet.

A simple way to relieve overcrowding is to set a deductible of say 3,000 yen before insurance can kick in. That way less people will be tempted to go to a doctor for a common cold.

While this may sound reasonable, with the current system it would never work as providers would never know if the payment was made already or not. People pay up front and something like this would only increase paperwork and create more problems for everyone.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Medicine prices here are some of the lowest on the planet.

Yubaru -- have you lived anywhere else "on the planet". If you had, you would know that prices for medices in Japan are often several hundred percent higher than places like Canada or Mexico.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

On the rare occasion I need to go the hospital it is continually overrun with the elder social club. There are tons of people that simply go there to just go somewhere and talk with someone. A sad reality. As for the clinics they need to be far more accessible and have better, if not emergency, operating hours. People also live in the delusion that the clinics are not equipped to deal with anything. Raising fees is always on the table, but hospitals could be referring the patients that just need a new scrip or minor treatment to the clinics, too.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I really do not understand why people run to the doctor for the usual boatload of meds at the sign of a cold. Doesn't change anything. Oh, and are those masks really effective? I wear gloves in winter to prevent contact with the surfaces on the trains and in the stations. Zillions of people touching those.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Ah, so to decrease the amount of people using hospitals they make it too expensive for people to go there? What a wonderful system.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Yubaru -- have you lived anywhere else "on the planet". If you had, you would know that prices for medices in Japan are often several hundred percent higher than places like Canada or Mexico.

Did you notice that I did not say THE lowest? As socialized medicine goes, the prices for med's in Japan are SOME of the lowest in the world.

People don't self-medicate here because it is cheaper by far to go to a hospital than to go to a pharmacy and purchase medications that are less effective at fighting simple illnesses such as the common cold.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This policy will just overload the primary care physicians who are already overworked and underpaid.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The medical system here is fantastic.

I have no complaints. Although people run too fast to the doctor for a simple cold, of which there is no known cure, I love the system here.

Doctors are kind but I do not like a nurse standing there while the doctor checks me.

I understand some complaints about people going to the hospital to socialize, but old people need contact with other humans. Maybe more social clubs for the elderly? Could be a good business.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I totally like this plan and its about time. People take way too much advantage of the social health care system here. "Oh I got a cold, going to the hospital"...please! And there are those who actually get turned away fro much more serious ailments because of overcrowding.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

There are some good points about this plan, namely trying to get people with a minor cold to stop taking up hospital beds or not come to the hospital at all, but there are also a lot of problems based on just what's described here.

Someone who needs triage at night is obviously not going to have a referral handy, and may well be a first time visitor. So on top of having to FIND a place open at night, on holidays, and otherwise outside business hours, they're going to get screwed with a bunch of other fees.

They need to be more specific, in my opinion -- instead of this 'first time fee' thing, or in addition to it maybe, decide that certain everyday ailments like the cold or flu do not warrant a hospital stay (save for where the flu is extremely serious) or visit, and charge more for such.

Anyway, it's a start... just needs a lot of fine tuning.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

encourage people with less serious ailments to go to smaller clinics

I wonder how much they got in political donations from the smaller clinics.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I have lost count of the number of times I've come down with a cold, to be asked by earnest friends and colleagues, "Have you been to hospital?"

No, I have not been to hospital, because I have a cold. Not a broken bone or leukaemia.

Stop people clogging up hospitals when they get a cold, and stop our venerable elderly treating them as social clubs, and we might not have to pay more. Oh, but that might involve people thinking? Forget it.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

People in this country are clueless about the fact that a cold is from a virus, and that anti-biotics cannot cure it. They demand drugs, get three days worth and create super bacteria problems. Blatantly stupid.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I have lost count of the number of times I've come down with a cold, to be asked by earnest friends and colleagues, "Have you been to hospital?"

No, I have not been to hospital, because I have a cold. Not a broken bone or leukaemia.

Stop people clogging up hospitals when they get a cold, and stop our venerable elderly treating them as social clubs, and we might not have to pay more. Oh, but that might involve people thinking? Forget it.

Until over the counter medications become available that can knock out a cold this is never going to happen. Japanese pharmaceutical companies control the market on drugs and do not allow drugs into the country, through their lobbying/cash payments/bribes to gov types that would be beneficial to the general public.

Doctors typically give patients the weakest medicine available first and then work their way up the ladder, they have a million excuses as to why, but the biggest one they can not say is because they make more money by having patients continually return for their care.

Doctors here are though by many to be gods and their word is final. People blindly trust them, but recently some cracks have come in the system and maybe someday changes will occur.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Until they start selling cheaper OTC drugs (that actually work) I'm going to continue going to the doctor when I have a cold, since I can get cheaper, more effective drugs to help alleviate my symptoms. That said, I haven't caught a cold in the last 3 years so it's certainly not me clogging up the hospitals.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I never visit a doctor, clinic or hospital when I come down with a cold - which fortunately is not often. Know why? Because with the drugs you get well in a week and without them in seven days.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

WAKE UP! A cold is one of many viruses. You cannot get medicine to kill it. Grow up. Read and learn.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

WAKE UP! A cold is one of many viruses. You cannot get medicine to kill it. Grow up. Read and learn

Quite so, however you can alleviate the symptoms using medication. However that being said here in Japan a "cold" is called "kaze" which includes any number of symptoms that people from let's say from the US would identify by other names such as a stomach flu, headaches, common colds,and diarrhea amongst a larger list of ailments.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

stomach flu, headaches, common colds,and diarrhea amongst a larger list of ailments.

Hmmm. Am I becoming demented? Have heard these terms and more in the Japanese language from lots and lots of people during these decades I've lived in this country.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hmmm. The only place I can go to I my city where I can fully explain my condition in English is a large hospital.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hmmm. Am I becoming demented? Have heard these terms and more in the Japanese language from lots and lots of people during these decades I've lived in this country.

No you are not, but they fall into the category of "kaze", some people will be specific about their symptoms, and many times Doctors themselves while discussing the ailments will be specific but will lump them all under the term "cold". I've got a doctor in the family and he explained that many patients understand when she tells them they have a "cold" or "kaze hiteru" but when she tells them more specifically what the problems are many times they misunderstand and believe that it is something more serious.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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