Medical System in Japan
If you need to see a doctor due to illness or injury, you are advised to visit a hospital or clinic. There are general hospitals, specialized clinics and private clinics in Japan. Where you would go depends on the nature of your illness or injury. When choosing a hospital/clinic, it is a good idea to ask a Japanese person who has lived in the neighborhood for a long time. Most Japanese hospitals/clinics do not require appointments. However, many dental clinics do. It is wise to call in advance to make sure.
If you are visiting a particular hospital or clinic for the first time, you will have to fill in some forms. Afterwards, wait in the waiting room until your name is called. The wait can be quite long in large hospitals, such as university hospitals. After you have been examined, you must wait once again until your name is called to pay the doctor's fee and to receive your medicine, if any, and pay your bill. If you are given a prescription rather than the medicine itself, you should take it to the nearest drug store where a pharmacist fills your prescription, and then pay the bill there.
Medical Treatment in Foreign Language
The majority of Japanese doctors understand English to some extend; however, most receptionists speak little English. If you do not speak Japanese, it is a good idea for you to bring someone who can interpret for you when visiting a doctor.
Medical Institutions with Multi-lingual Doctor
National Health Insurance
The National Health Insurance Program in Japan is an insurance to reduce the individual's medical cost in the event of illness or injury through a system of mutual payments and assistance, and it is "the national comprehensive health insurance program" that is the system requiring everyone with an address in Japan to enroll in some form of public medical health insurance.
If you have an alien registration certificate and status of residence in Japan for at least one year, you and your dependents are obliged to enroll in the national health insurance.
If you subscribe to this program, you must pay monthly premiums. You will be issued an insurance card, which allows you to receive medical treatment at only 20%~30% of the cost by showing the card at medical facilities. National health insurance can also partially cover fees for illnesses and injuries that may exceed the limit paid by your traveler's insurance, or it may help pay fees for treatment for dental care and treatment for pre-existing/chronic conditions not covered by your traveler's insurance, as well as fees for midwife.
The premiums for national health insurance vary according to the city/town where you live, according to your income and according to the number of family members. For a person living by oneself with no income for the previous year in Japan, the annual premium averages about 20,000 yen.
When you have completed alien registration at the alien registration counter of your local municipal office, you should also enroll in national health insurance at the other section in charge of the national health insurance at your local municipal office.
For more detailed information, please contact the national health insurance section of your municipal office.