Enrolling in one of the Japanese health insurance programs, regardless of nationality (non-japanese or Japanese) as long as they are registered residents is mandatory by law. Why? Because it helps members to receive medical services from unexpected illnesses or injuries and helps them pay incurred medical costs.
There are two major insurance programs available in Japan, the National Health Insurance and the other one is Employees’ Health Insurance. Let’s learn more about National Health Insurance.
National Health Insurance or Kokumin-Kenkō-Hoken 国民健康保険
It is a public medical insurance program operated by prefectures and municipalities. Therefore, the procedure such as registration will take place at the municipal office. Take note the calculation of the insurance cost varies in every municipality.
So, who’s eligible and not eligible to join the program?
- All Japanese citizens who are not enrolled in any other health insurance programs
- Foreign nationals who have registered as residents with permission to stay in Japan for 1 year or more.
- covered by company or health insurance union
- public welfare recipient
- tourist (3-month visa or less)
- those taking seafarers insurance and their dependents
- older than 75 years old
National Health Insurance Coverage
Health insurance in Japan covers 70% of the medical cost. Without health insurance, the person will be responsible for paying the entire medical expenses. The following are some of the National Health Insurance or NHI coverage.
- General medical procedures and medications (including dental care) approved by the government
- Medical cash reimbursement
- Birth allowance
– When an NHI member gives birth, a ¥420,000 lump sum will be given after childbirth.
- Funeral allowance
– When an NHI member dies, ¥70,000 lump sum for burial services.
NHI for Foreigners
Most of the foreigners have Employee’s Health Insurance which is provided by employers to their employees. The insurance cost or premium is based on the individual’s salary and paid by the employer. However, if foreigners who live in Japan for more than a year, but are not qualified to Employee’s Health Insurance or Kenkō-Hoken 健康保険, are required by law to enroll to the National Health Insurance (NHI) within fourteen days after the issuance of a Resident Certificate.
Delay of enrollment may cause problems and may be costly. To know how to get a Resident Certificate, please click Residence Certificate in Japan.
For the NHI application, bring your passport and residence certificate, then fill out the application form that will be given to you. Remember, you will apply for NHI at the municipality where you get your residence certificate.
For foreigners who only stay in Japan for less than twelve months may choose to get Private Health Insurance. Some residents who either have Employee’s Health Insurance or National Health Insurance still subscribe to this kind of insurance to cover all medical treatments that are not covered by the first two insurance programs.
Most of the Private Health Insurance gives a list of participating hospitals and doctors, where you can use it.
If you will stay long-term in Japan, then National Health insurance is mandatory.
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