Students who are planning to study in Japan should first familiarize themselves with the health care system in Japan. Coming to an entirely new country can be disorienting and scary, and it is important to be prepared and knowledgeable about the healthcare available to you in case of the unexpected. Fortunately, health care in Japan is provided free for non-citizens staying longer than a year.
The standard of medical treatment in Japan is extremely high. People born in Japan have the longest life expectancy of any country in the world. Although not many Japanese practice medicine (studying medicine in Japan can be very expensive), Japan has excellent hospitals and clinics, and because it is the world's leading country in technology, offers highly technical, state-of-the-art equipment. Students can be confident in the proficiency of medical treatment in Japan.
Hospitals are required by law to be run as non-profit and to be managed by physicians. For-profit organizations are forbidden from owning or operating hospitals or clinics, and clinics must be both owned and operated by physicians. There are numerous private hospitals, public hospitals, and clinics in Japan, but the Japanese do not have a "family doctor" system.
Health care in Japan is, generally speaking, provided free for Japanese citizens, expatriates, and foreigners. Medical treatment in Japan is provided through universal health care. This system is available to all citizens, as well as non-Japanese citizens staying in Japan for more than a year. Students can register for health care in Japan through the National Health Insurance System, or in a health care association plan provided by their employer. If they enroll through their employer, their insurance contributions will be deducted automatically from their salary; if not, they must remember to pay the NHI tax regularly. Self-employed and unemployed people must enroll in the National Health Insurance plan at their local government office. Their NHI tax is determined based on income.
The health care system in Japan provides free screening processes for certain diseases, infectious disease control, and prenatal care. Under the health care system in Japan, the patient accepts responsibility for 30% of the medical costs, and the government pays the remaining 70%.
As the population of non-Japanese citizens grows, the government has endeavored to improve the quality of health care available to them in Japan. The language barrier has always been a significant problem, and for this reason the government has made efforts to staff Japanese hospitals with English-speaking medical professionals. In fact, a considerable number of surgeons and specialists in Japan received their training in western English-speaking countries such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
Non-Japanese people seeking health care in Japan are encouraged to bring with them an interpreter, as well as their health insurance card, when visiting a doctor or clinic for primary care, or a hospital for a more serious medical concern. They might also ask their nearest embassy or consulate to recommend nearby hospitals or clinics with bilingual medical staffs.