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Healthcare in Japan

Japan is well known for its high level in medicine and medical technology. You will find only the best and most modern medical equipments in hospitals and clinics and you have the option to choose which hospital is the best to treat your illness be it a university hospital, general hospital or clinic. Please note that not all hospitals have a 24/7 emergency room and it is always best to check before leaving for a hospital or clinic.


When you visit a clinic or a hospital for the first time, you will need to fill out a registration form, present your health insurance card and sometimes pay a fee for the initial visit. To avoid any problems, you should check first to see if you need an appointment and what type of insurance they accept. It is always a good policy to carry your insurance card, in the event of an emergency.


The Japanese don’t know family doctors, so regular check-ups or vaccinations are done in clinics or hospitals. Most of the time it is best to go to a clinic near you, as they are cheaper than the hospitals.


If you are living in Japan you have to join one of the Japanese public health insurance systems even as a foreigner regardless of whether you have a private insurance or not. The insurance allows you and your family to only pay 30% of medical bills. Please note that not all medical procedures are covered and it is always best to check first to make sure you know what has to be paid out of your pocket. And not all medical facilities accept National Health Insurance. In case the insurance is not accepted you will have to pay the fees in cash but you will get a form and bill you can send to your private health insurance for reimbursement.


The Employees’ Health Insurance, which is a workplace-based health insurance system for company employees and their dependents. Your premium is based on your income, and will be split equally between you and your company. Your company will deduct the payment from your salary every month.


The National Health Insurance, which is run by the local municipal office, is designed for self-employed persons and students who do not have Employees’ Health Insurance. Foreigners who are not members of the Employees’ Health Insurance must register for the National Health Insurance, as long as they have a visa that is effective for at least a year. Monthly contributions will differ based on where you live and your income. You can check details at your local municipal office.

Medicine that doesn’t require prescriptions can be bought in supermarkets or general drug stores. Prescription drugs can be bought at pharmacies which are usually located near hospitals or clinics.


You can also obtain a private insurance which will cover special treatments which the public medical insurance does not cover, such as cancer treatment, high-tech medical treatments, hospitalization and even treatments received while overseas. Because medical expenses can easily increase without any health/medical insurance, it is highly recommended you register with one of the insurance systems.

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