Health system in Japan
There is a universal health insurance in Japan. This is the NHI – National Health Insurance. The contribution depends on each household’s income, as well as each prefecture. In order to get registered, one must go to a local office (municipal office, ward office …). Check our page about Health Insurance for foreign students here.
Thanks to the NHI, Japanese people (and foreign residents) have to pay only 30% of their medical costs. In other words, the State pays 70% of the medical expenses. Seniors (people who are 70 years old or) may pay only 10% (that would depend also on their income) while parents have to pay 20% for their kids. That includes dental care – except for specific works. Some exemptions are possible for people who are in bad situations.
It is possible to subscribe to additional private insurances. Employees get such insurances via their companies. Employers pay about half of their employees’ subscription. Those insurances cover each member of the employees’ families. In case of high medical expenses, deductibles apply: beyond that amount, the insurance company covers the cost. That protects people from getting into financial distress as it can happen in the US, for example.
Sick leaves are compensated for lengths of up to 18 months. During that time, insured people get 2 thirds of their salary. Specific conditions apply for leaves over 18 months.
Maternity allowances and conditions still leave a lot to be desired in Japan. However, because Japan is facing demographic issues, the Abe government has pledged to improve this issue. Nowadays, new mothers receive a premium of 420,000 yens. This is supposed to cover the various medical costs. If the actual costs exceed this amount, the mother will have to pay the difference. If the costs are below 420,000 yens, she will get the balance. The maternity leaves start 42 days before due delivery date. They end 56 days after births.
The health system in Japan is quite good. It is on par or even better than most other developed countries. Namely, it is similar to European countries’ systems, and more “generous” than the American system. The quality of care is generally considered as one of the best. As a matter of fact, Japanese life expectancy is always among the highest in the world, if not the highest. And infant mortality rate is among the lowest (to see a comparison published by the World Health Organization, click here).