Japan is renowned for its national health care program, which is affordable and accessible to almost all Japan residents. For many foreign people, Japan’s healthcare provides a sense of security that they can’t get in their home countries. However, there are still limitations such as coverage and availability of English-speaking services. Some people make up for these limitations by turning to private health insurance – but what do you do in the face of a serious critical illness? Is basic health coverage alone enough?
National Health Insurance in Japan
Japan’s national health insurance is called “kokumin kenko hoken”. It’s a government-funded insurance program that covers most medical services. It is available to anyone who lives in Japan and has a valid social security number (koseki-hin) or residence certificate (juminhyo).
For those enrolled in Japan’s national health insurance, 70% of the cost associated with medical appointments, hospital visits, tests, and prescriptions is paid for by the government. Patients are responsible for the remaining 30%. Under some circumstances, largely dependent on income, the patients’ share may be less.
- Enrolling in National Health Insurance: The self-employed or those who work for small businesses contribute to the national health insurance program directly. Full-time employees of medium and large-sized companies are enrolled through their companies. For these individuals, approximately 5% of their salary is held back as a health-based deduction. This amount is matched by the employer.
- (Note: In order to be considered full-time in Japan, an employee must work 30 hours per week.)
Private Health Insurance in Japan
Private insurance plans are also an option for those who wish to invest in their own health care. Private insurance plans can cover both hospital stays and outpatient services such as physical therapy or dental care. These plans often have deductibles and co-pays (the amount that must be contributed by the insured person towards the cost of medical treatment or other services) as well as caps on coverage, and the cost can vary depending on factors such as age and desired protection.
- Enrolling in Private Health Insurance: Some large companies such as Cigna and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association have global insurance options that are available to non-Japanese living in Japan. These companies have various plans available depending on the needs of the client. Quotes for these plans can generally be generated on request by your financial adviser.
Is Having Health Insurance Alone Enough?
Although basic health insurance may help with minor issues and expenses, it’s not enough to account for significant health events and illnesses. Some treatments are not covered by national health insurance in Japan.
Japan’s Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (the equivalent to the United States FDA) is not progressive in deciding what medicines can and cannot be marketed domestically. Thus, treatments that are widely accepted and standardized in other G10 countries may not receive approval here in Japan. These treatments are classified as “experimental”– meaning they aren’t covered under regular health insurance.
As a result, you may not be able to afford the treatment you need when you’re diagnosed with a critical illness like cancer. And even if you can pay for the treatments, you might have trouble making ends meet while you recover from your illness due to the loss of income and increased expenses.
Health insurance also does not provide any financial support for an unexpected death. Death is a part of life. Even in Japan, renowned for its safety, thousands of people still die every day – mainly from old age, but also prematurely from accidents or illness. Death can create many problems for your loved ones, especially if you leave them with insufficient financial resources.
What Other Types of Insurance Do You Need In Japan?
Critical Illness Insurance: Beyond regular health insurance, critical illness insurance provides extra protection for you and your family. Not only can it cover costs of medical treatments if you are diagnosed with a severe medical condition, it can also cover loss of income while you recover from the illness or injury.
Life Insurance: Should something happen to you, the right life insurance policy can protect your family, covering your funeral costs and providing financial support for your family if you die prematurely so that they continue to have somewhere to live and can afford to sustain themselves despite the loss of your income. By choosing the right policy and knowing what to look out for in terms of coverage and cost, it is possible to protect your family from financial hardship after your death.
Where to Get Health, Critical Illness, and Life Insurance in Japan
Foreign nationals in Japan can find critical illness and life insurance policies to protect themselves and their families with the help of an experienced financial adviser. You can look for English-speaking financial planning companies that specialize in helping foreign nationals and request a consultation. Make sure the financial experts you talk to are trained to help you understand what kind of coverage would be best for your needs. Don’t leave your health and your family’s future to chance – talking to a qualified adviser today can mean security and peace of mind for you and your loved ones for years to come.