Japan has an excellent healthcare system and universal health coverage, as well as virtually no private healthcare system. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and the Central Social Insurance Council regulate nearly all medical care processes in Japan. In other words, the healthcare system is predominantly nonprofit. Only elective and cosmetic care fall within the scope of privatized healthcare. For full coverage of any medical needs you might have during your time in Japan, expat health insurance in Japan is a necessity.
Healthcare in Japan: What You Need to Know
Whether you’re a Japanese national or a foreign resident, it is mandatory to enroll in one Japan’s two insurance systems. You will not need to enroll if your planned duration of stay in the country is less than 90 days.
Japan offers universal healthcare coverage through two main insurance plans:
- National Health Insurance (NHI)
- Social Health Insurance (SHI)
These two plans together support Japan’s hybrid healthcare insurance system. The government takes care of 70% of all medical costs. The remaining 30% is covered by employer-sponsored health insurance. You can also buy international private medical insurance.
Again, it is mandatory to enroll in one of these two plans, both of which cover extensive healthcare services. In your first year of residence in Japan, you are eligible to enroll in the NHI plan. If you are a full-time salaried worker, you will shift to the SHI plan in your second year of living and working in Japan.
Under SHI, your employer will cover half of the 30% of costs that are excluded from coverage by the government. The rest gets deducted from your monthly paycheck.
Cover Yourself Through Expat Health Insurance for The Initial Period
It takes some time for the NHI enrollment process to be completed. During that period, you’ll have to pay 100% of the costs for any medical services you might require upfront. You can save yourself from that financial burden with Japan expat health insurance.
Japan Expat Health Insurance for Contraception and Childbirth Expenses
Japan’s public healthcare system does not cover pre-natal care, post-natal care, or childbirth expenses. Pregnant women get vouchers for discounts on necessary services they might seek. Appropriate expatriate health insurance will minimize your out-of-pocket expenses by covering these costs. Public healthcare also does not cover contraception costs. So, if you anticipate pregnancy and childbirth during your stay in Japan, it would be wise to use expat medical insurance to cover it.
Coverage for Vaccinations Through Japan Expat Health Insurance
NHI and SHI do not cover special vaccination needs such as flu shots. With a comprehensive expatriate health insurance plan, you can get coverage for such special vaccines. The cost of a flu shot varies between 3,000 and 5,000 JPY ($28 to $47 USD), with children under the age of 13 advised to receive two shots with a 4-week gap in between.
Coverage for Mental Healthcare Through Japan Expat Medical Insurance
As in many other Asian countries, Japan’s government-sponsored insurance plans do not cover mental care. Many expats find this particularly problematic, as they consider mental health checkups and supportive therapies to be routine. Purchase a private international health insurance to make sure your mental health needs are covered.
Coverage for Dental Care Through Japan Expat Health Insurance
NHI and SHI cover basic as well as advanced dental care to some extent. However, certain needs like orthodontics are not covered. Get an expat health plan comprehensive enough to cover such special needs for your dental hygiene.
International Expat Health Insurance to Stay Covered When You Travel
NHI and SHI coverage is valid only as long as you are in Japan. It will not cover medical expenses incurred while you are traveling outside the country. Whether you’re traveling for work or a family vacation, with international expat health insurance, you can remain covered outside Japan also. Expat health insurance is available in different categories. Find out more about expat health insurance options.
A Note of Caution
Make sure that your expat health insurance is one that clinics and hospitals in Japan recognize and accept. Get your Japan expat medical care insurance from a reputable provider, and experience the security of complete coverage of specialized and emergency healthcare in Japan.