Saturday, March 14, 2009

It isn't perfect, but I recommend the Japanese system of health care

I have lived in Japan for nearly 20 years and have enjoyed the health system that they have for most people here. When I first started, it had a 10% deductible and that began changing about 10 years ago. It was increased to 20% and then to 30% and it has remained at this point for at least 5 years. As long it doesn't go above this, it should be OK. I believe that my Japanese Mother and Father-in-law have a 10% deductible.

This system works for most medical attention, including optometry as well as dentistry. It does not cover the cost of making glasses, and I have no experiences with dentures... However, it covers most medication that I have had to utilize.

Also something interesting is that some cities subsidize medication as well as doctor visits for children under certain ages. I know my daughter received certain vaccinations for free by the city of Sapporo. Also there are free checkups for children in Elementary schools which are contracted out to a physician who's practice is located near the school.

Hospitalization is also covered. I have had a couple of instances in which I needed tests to be run and was hospitalized. One time in a room with six other patients and another time in a private room. The private rooms in 2000 were only 8,000 yen a day (a little more than $80). Less than the price of a hotel room, so I opted for the private room rather than the six patient room. I do not know what the price was for that room, but the difference was so small than I could not fathom staying in the group room.

The good (or bad side) depending on how you look at it, is that here in Japan people go to many different doctors, perhaps a different one each time. I have always tried to pick my doctors and stay with them, however, many people do not do this. Up to now, this has probably allowed people to get multiple prescriptions for the same ailment unnecessarily. However, with the new electronic medical record system which will be mandatory soon here in Japan, this may be more easily controlled.

For the most part, I can say that the Japanese medical system has been very good. I hear other ex-pats here who claim that this is a very bad place to receive medical treatment. I agree that the Hygiene at some hospitals here in Japan is severely lacking. However, if one takes the time to carefully pick their hospitals and get referrals from medical care workers that they trust, then this system is quite a good one. I highly recommend the Japanese Medical System as long as it is properly managed "by the people, for the people".

I am not sure if this was of any help as I and my family are healthy for the most part, but I do endorse the Japanese model.

If you have specific questions, feel free to contact me.

Very Sincerely Yours,

Brian Dishman

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