Chances are you probably know at least a few people who have been diagnosed with cancer and maybe a few people who have unfortunately died from cancer. Cancer is one of the most common illnesses in the world. About 40 percent of people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life. To put that in perspective, think of 10 people with whom you are close. Of those ten people, the odds are that doctors will diagnose 4 of them with some form of cancer. With cancer being so common, it is not a surprise that many people have cancer insurance in Japan.
The good news is that cancer treatment continues to improve, and mortality rates are decreasing every year. Between 1991 and 2016, the cancer mortality rate has declined by about 27 percent. This decrease in cancer mortality rate is thanks to new technologies and new methods for treating the disease.
Cancer in Japan
However, suppose you are a foreign person living in Japan or plan on moving to Japan. In that case, you should understand the limitations of Japan’s healthcare system. Japan has a universal healthcare system. The Japanese government subsidizes healthcare, making medical treatment highly affordable and accessible.
The Japanese government funds healthcare through taxes paid by workers and individual contributions. If you require medical treatment, you can go to the hospital and receive treatment, usually resulting in a small, non-burdensome copayment.
People who can’t afford the copayment still receive the same level of healthcare that everyone else does. Under Japan’s healthcare system, regardless of wealth or occupation, everyone gets the same healthcare and sees the same doctors.
Unfortunately, not all treatments are available under the national healthcare system. For specific cancer treatments, you must find the treatment at a clinic independent from the Japanese healthcare system and pay out of pocket or utilize private insurance.
When it comes to cancer treatment, Japan’s universal health care system has some significant drawbacks. In 2017, Japan spent $4,267 per capita on healthcare compared to the United States who spent $10,624 per capita.
Because of Japan’s lower healthcare expenditures, treatments for diseases like cancer are cheaper and less effective than those in countries that spend more on healthcare. Japan doesn’t have the most up-to-date cancer treatments, limiting your options and ability to fight the disease. This limitation results in many cancer patients seeking treatment outside of Japan’s national healthcare system.
Suppose Japan’s lower-quality cancer treatment options worry you. If cancer is a worry, you can get critical illness insurance that will pay you if you are diagnosed with cancer. You can use the insurance money to help seek alternative treatment, perhaps in a country that offers superior cancer treatment options.
Problems Foreign People Face with Japanese Healthcare
Foreign people living in Japan face a myriad of challenges. Most notably, there is a language barrier. This language barrier can make basic tasks such as going to the grocery store and finding the right ingredients challenging. Navigating Japanese healthcare is a completely different story.
Navigating healthcare systems is always challenging, regardless of the country and even when you are not facing a language barrier. If you have a hard time navigating the healthcare system at home, just imagine how tough it can be in a foreign country.
If you fall seriously ill, you need to be able to get the proper care. Especially with a disease like cancer, getting the best treatment possible is essential. Not understanding how to navigate the healthcare system in Japan can have dire consequences.
Suppose you are diagnosed with cancer in Japan and find the best care that the Japanese healthcare system offers. The odds are that the therapy is outdated compared to the treatments available privately or in another country. According to Brit Med, a company that helps patients find the best treatment and doctors, the best countries for cancer treatment are Australia, The Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Finland.
Globally, people regard Japan’s healthcare system highly for its effectiveness, accessibility, and affordability. Japan not having the world’s best cancer treatment should not deter you from living there and should not lead you to believe that the healthcare in Japan is terrible. However, it would be best if you keep the limitations of the national healthcare system in mind, particularly as it pertains to having the most up-to-date treatment for diseases.
Critical Illness Insurance
Assuming critical illness insurance and life insurance serve the same purpose is dangerous. You might automatically think critical illness insurance sounds similar to life insurance. You may even believe that critical illness insurance is not necessary as long as you have life insurance. This belief could leave you financially ruined if you are diagnosed with non-terminal cancer.
The main distinction between critical illness insurance and life insurance is that critical illness insurance pays you upon diagnosis, not after you die. If doctors diagnose you with terminal cancer, life insurance will pay your family after you die. The expected life insurance payout means you have a financial safety net for your medical expenses and bills.
If diagnosed with terminal cancer, you can use your expected life insurance payout to fund treatment. However, suppose doctors diagnose you with a severe form of cancer, but it isn’t terminal.
In that case, you may still want to seek special treatment, especially if the national healthcare system doesn’t offer the newest and greatest treatment. However, since you will not ultimately die, your life insurance will not help your family pay for your treatment or pay the bills while you can’t work. In a situation like this, critical illness insurance would be highly beneficial.
In most cases, critical illness insurance companies pay you a lump sum of money. Because you receive payment upon diagnosis, you get to spend the money as you please. You can use the critical illness insurance money for special treatment, childcare, and other miscellaneous expenses.
Critical illness insurance can play a crucial role in your recovery from cancer or other qualifying illnesses. Stress can take a severe toll on your overall health and be detrimental to your recovery from a disease like cancer. By reducing financial stress, critical illness insurance can help you better recover from illness.
The amount of money you receive from a critical illness insurance policy depends on how much cover you purchase. Critical illness cover can range from a few thousand dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars.
Critical illness insurance companies cater your policy towards your unique needs. In general, the more dependents you have, the larger your critical illness insurance policy should be. Having more dependents means your expenses are greater. With more dependents, your family will be far less secure if doctors diagnose you with cancer and you can no longer work.
International Critical Illness Insurance
Many people living internationally will purchase international critical illness insurance. If doctors diagnose you with a qualifying illness, you will receive your international critical illness insurance money, regardless of where you are. With international critical illness insurance, you do not need to worry about renewing your policy if you relocate to another country. Some companies even offer insurance that you purchase once, and it covers you for life.
To receive a critical illness insurance payout, you need to be diagnosed with a severe disease that generally requires substantial medical treatment. Your insurance company will specify what conditions qualify for a critical illness insurance payout for your policy. Cancer, heart attacks, and strokes are examples of illnesses that could qualify you for a critical illness insurance payout.
If you want an extra level of security for yourself and your family, critical illness insurance is a good option. International critical illness insurance is simple and only needs to be purchased once in a lifetime. Once purchased, your insurance company has you covered. In most cases, you do not need to worry about renewing your policy in the future.
Finding Critical Illness Insurance in Japan
As a foreign person living in Japan, you will face the same struggles finding critical illness insurance that you face when navigating the healthcare system. These challenges can be detrimental to finding the best critical illness policy for your needs.
If you do not speak Japanese, you may have a hard time communicating with Japanese insurance companies. This language barrier can be dangerous and could lead to you not getting the correct critical illness cover for your unique situation. International people face unique challenges, so it is crucial that you can communicate with insurance companies effectively.
Even if you find a Japanese insurance company that employs English speakers, you may not get the coverage you need. As an international person, it is best to obtain critical illness insurance from an insurance company specializing in helping international people.
As discussed previously, cancer treatment in Japan is older and less effective than the treatment available elsewhere. Because treatment is better in other countries, it is crucial that you find critical illness insurance payable in currencies other than JPY. If you live in Japan upon diagnosis, you may want to seek treatment in the United States. If you wish to receive treatment in the United States, it would be beneficial to have your critical illness insurance paid in dollars.
Not all Japanese insurance companies offer critical illness insurance payable in currencies other than JPY. Language barriers can make it challenging to find a Japanese insurance company that offers a policy payable in alternative currencies.
Because of the unique challenges that foreign people living in Japan face, it may be beneficial to speak with a financial advisor before starting your search for critical illness insurance.
[ Sources ]
– National Cancer Institute – Cancer Statistics
– Matsuda, Ryozo. “International Health Care System Profiles: Japan.” The Commonwealth Fund (2020)
– Nomura, Nakayama. “The Japanese Healthcare System.” BMJ 331 (2005)
– “The Top 5 Countries For Cancer Treatment.” BritMed (2021)