Japan has a comprehensive healthcare system that provides both public and private healthcare options. The public healthcare system is known as the National Health Insurance (NHI) and is used by the majority of the population. Foreigners (expats and digital nomads) are allowed to use the public healthcare system in Japan, however, many expats opt for private healthcare due to the language barrier and the fact that private hospitals are more likely to have English-speaking staff. Public hospitals are generally recommended for serious medical emergencies and major surgery, however, private hospitals are often preferred for more minor medical issues.
Japan’s Public Healthcare System
The National Health Insurance (NHI) is Japan’s public healthcare system. It is funded by taxes and premiums paid by citizens and residents. The NHI covers a wide range of medical services, including hospital stays, doctor visits, and prescription drugs. The cost of public healthcare is relatively low, with most services costing around 30% of the total cost.
Japan’s Private Healthcare System
Private healthcare in Japan is more expensive than public healthcare, but it is often preferred by expats due to the language barrier and the fact that private hospitals are more likely to have English-speaking staff. Private hospitals are generally recommended for more minor medical issues, while public hospitals are generally recommended for serious medical emergencies and major surgery. Private health insurance is available from a variety of companies, including Japan Post Insurance, AIG Japan, and MS&AD Insurance Group.
Japan’s Top Hospitals
Japan has a number of top hospitals, both public and private. Some of the most well-known hospitals include:
- Tokyo Medical and Dental University Hospital (public, Tokyo)
- Kyoto University Hospital (public, Kyoto)
- Kobe City Medical Center General Hospital (public, Kobe)
- Keio University Hospital (private, Tokyo)
- St. Luke’s International Hospital (private, Tokyo)
- Kameda Medical Center (private, Kamogawa)
- Kurume University Hospital (public, Kurume)
- Kawasaki Municipal Hospital (public, Kawasaki)
Health Insurance Companies in Japan
The most popular private health insurers in Japan are Japan Post Insurance, AIG Japan, and MS&AD Insurance Group. Expats and digital nomads typically use these companies or specialized expat health insurance providers.
Insider Tips from Expats in Japan: How to Navigate the Health System
“I’ve lived in Japan for a few years, and I can tell you that it’s definitely possible to live on $3,000 a month, but you’ll have to make some sacrifices and adjustments to your lifestyle. Living in central Tokyo or Osaka would be too expensive on that budget, as rent and living expenses can be quite high in those areas. Instead, consider living in more affordable locations like Fukuoka or Nagoya, where you can find cheaper rent and a lower cost of living. To make it work, you’ll have to be mindful of your spending habits. Eating out can be expensive, so try to cook at home more often and shop at local supermarkets for groceries. Public transportation is efficient and affordable, so you won’t need a car, which will save you money on gas and insurance. You might also have to live in a smaller apartment than you’re used to, as space is at a premium in Japan. When it comes to entertainment, there are plenty of free or low-cost activities to enjoy, like visiting parks, temples, and local festivals. You might have to cut back on expensive hobbies or nights out, but there’s still plenty to do on a budget. Overall, living in Japan on $3,000 a month is doable, but you’ll have to be willing to make some sacrifices and adjust your lifestyle to fit your budget,” said one expat living in Japan.
“It is difficult to find English speaking health providers, but they do exist. The healthcare culture is very rushed and you must be clear about what you need, otherwise the doctor isn’t going to take the time to figure it out for you,” commented one expat living in Tokyo, Japan.
“In Japan, medical services are highly advanced and of a very high quality. The country has a comprehensive healthcare system that provides access to a wide range of medical services, including preventive care, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation. Japan also has a well-developed network of hospitals and clinics, staffed by highly trained and experienced medical professionals. Patients can expect to receive personalized care and attention, and the latest medical technology is often used to ensure the best possible outcomes,” mentioned one expat living in Japan.