Because of the Japanese healthcare system, Japanese citizens have a higher life expectancy than everyone else. In contrast to other healthcare systems, the approach prioritizes preventative care over reactive care. Free screening tests for various ailments are also available through the Japanese Healthcare System, as well as excellent prenatal programmes.
Despite the considerable priority placed on prevention, Japanese physicians and nurses are not compelled to renew their licenses. They are not even required to attend continuing education classes.
In contrast to Canada or the United States, Japanese citizens rarely have a single devoted family physician. Because most physicians have a sub-specialty, there are relatively few general practitioners. You go straight to the specialist who can help you with your disease.
In many other countries, there is an urban-rural divide, with physicians flocking to cities and preferring to work in cities over rural areas. In Japan, however, the opposite is true.
Rural areas benefit from an unequal distribution of physicians compared to urban areas. Physicians prefer being allocated to rural locations, claiming that they have a better quality of life and a less stressful work environment outside of metropolitan areas.
The medical system in Japan is based on universal healthcare. In 1927, an employee health plan became the first type of public healthcare in Japan. By 1961, it had matured into a system that provided universal coverage to residents, visitors, and expats alike.
The Japanese Healthcare System: Costs And Fees
SHI, or Social Health Insurance, is Japan’s public healthcare system. Everyone who works full-time for a medium or big corporation is covered by SHI. Employers match the cost of SHI, which is withheld from salaries at a rate of about 5%.
The Japan National Health Insurance (NHI) plan provides coverage to those who do not qualify for SHI. Self-employed people, such as expats and digital nomads, are eligible for the NHI plan. It also covers those who work for small firms and those who are unemployed. The amount you contribute to the NHI is determined by your income.
In general, the government covers 70% of all healthcare costs, including doctor visits, hospital visits, and even medicines. Patients are responsible for the remaining 30% of healthcare costs, which is preferable to paying the whole cost of medical services. Depending on the patient’s economic level, though, this ratio may shift in their favor.
A government commission, which includes physicians as members, determines the cost of medical appointments and hospital visits. Fees are changed every two years based on the committee’s recommendations. This enables the government to respond adequately to economic changes in order to keep healthcare cheap.
The 47 regions of Japan are in charge of enforcing the laws, regulations, and fee schedule. They also have the freedom to set their own local budget in order to reflect and respond to regional health issues.
Regional municipalities are also in charge of “nursing care.” Citizens over the age of 40 must contribute an additional 2% to cover the expense of this service. This cost accounts for the costs of long-term care and nursing homes.
Physician fraud and over-recommendation of particular services in order to claim the accompanying charge is also prevented by adjusting the schedule fee. If the committee concludes that certain tests are being over-recommended, the cost of the test will be reduced, making the test less profitable for the prescribing physician.
The Japanese Healthcare System: Eligibility And Administration
If you work full-time for a medium or big company and are thus eligible for SHI coverage, you will find that getting medical care in Japan is pretty simple. Employers will also handle the paperwork for you.
If you are qualified for NHI as an expat who has recently arrived and is waiting the required one year to enroll in SHI, the process may be more time consuming. To complete the documentation, you must go to your local NHI office. If you relocate, you will need to re-register with the regional office in your new location.
The Japanese Healthcare System: A Variety Of Healthcare Options
The NHI provides health insurance in Japan to foreigners with residence cards who have been in the country for more than three months. Those who work for a larger corporation are eligible to apply for the SHI.
Expats who are waiting for their NHI paperwork to be processed, on the other hand, are in limbo. Unless they brought their private international health insurance with them to Japan, they would be without coverage. Tourists and other short-term visitors to Japan are not covered by Japan’s health insurance system. For medical situations, they should have their own Japan travel insurance.
The Japanese Healthcare System: Differences Between Private And Public Care
Hospitals and clinics are not allowed to be run by for-profit organizations in Japan. Japanese hospitals are required by law to be non-profit. In hospitals, physicians make governing and administrative decisions. Clinics must also be run and owned by doctors. Elective and cosmetic procedures are the primary emphasis of the for-profit healthcare sector.
Approximately 90% of citizens and residents who are eligible are enrolled in the public healthcare system. In Japan, the majority of people have supplementary private health insurance. Private insurance, in general, serves as a supplement, providing additional life and critical sickness coverage. It also helps to defray the expense of additional treatments like orthodontics. Private carriers may be able to cover the 30% cost that patients are responsible for during medical visits.
The Japanese Healthcare System: Positives And Negatives
While Japan’s physical healthcare standards are excellent, it is not as forward-thinking when it comes to mental health care. In Japan, practices such as isolation and restrictions, which have long been dismissed as major treatment strategies in other nations, are relatively widespread. Mental health therapy is still stigmatized, especially among women.
Hospital wait times are also an issue in Japan. The majority of people do not have a primary care physician. Instead, anytime they become ill, they go straight to a professional. Patients, on the other hand, are unclear where to turn when they have several symptoms. Even if their discomfort is minimal, they seek treatment in hospitals, where a variety of specialists are available. As a result, doctors and nurses at hospital emergency departments respond to non-urgent cases.
The issue of capacity and wait times is a major one. There have been terrible incidents of people who required immediate medical attention but were turned down by many institutions before succumbing to their illnesses. Unfortunately, the issue of hospital capacity and wait periods will not be resolved anytime soon.
Japanese inhabitants enjoy the world’s highest life expectancy, and the country’s healthcare system is always looking for new ways to better serve the country’s huge and ageing population. By 2050, 40% of Japan’s population will be over 65 years old. As a result, the government must create a more effective healthcare system.
Patients who are not native Japanese speakers face substantial language challenges. While many hospitals in the United States employ English-speaking personnel, this is not necessarily the case in Japan. Many expats who have lived in other nations expect to confront language problems in rural areas, but they are unprepared for unilingual city employees.
Multilingual facilities can be recommended by embassies, consulates, and other expats. Local services can also be recommended in English by your company or travel agent. English-speaking employees are common in university-based hospitals and clinics. For appointments, however, hiring an interpreter is a wise decision.