Japanese Health Insurance

All foreign residents in Japan staying for more than three months must be enrolled in public health insurance. There are two main kinds of public health insurance – social/employee’s health insurance and national health insurance. Social/employee’s health insurance is provided to most full-time employees through their workplace. Those who are not enrolled in social/employee’s insurance must join national health insurance through their local municipal office. These insurance systems cover 70% of most medical treatment, while the remaining 30% is the patient’s responsibility. Some treatments are not covered by insurance, meaning 100% of fees will be charged. Those not enrolled in public insurance will also be expected to pay for treatment in full.

Paying for Treatment

Medical fees must be paid at the time of treatment. Most medical facilities accept payment only in cash. Those enrolled in public insurance need only pay 30% of the cost of treatment. All facilities charge a first time consultation fee, which will be around ¥2800 without insurance. A second visit for the same symptoms will be around ¥700. Additionally, you will have to pay for any tests, treatment and medication received. If you receive a prescription for medicine, you will need to pay for it separately at the dispensing pharmacy. Late night consultations and emergency cases may require payment of a deposit or incur additional fees, though these rules differ between facilities.

Private Insurance and Travel Insurance

Private insurance plans can cover the portion of medical fees not covered by public insurance, though the applicable treatments vary widely depending on the contract. Be sure to ask the medical facility for the documents you will require in order to be reimbursed by your insurance company. Be aware that the coverage of insurance provided through credit cards tends to be limited.