The health insurance scheme is required by the government in Japan for all Japanese citizens, permanent residents and any non-Japanese residing in Japan with a visa for three months or more, including students. Kokumin kenkou hoken (国民健康保険,こくみんけんこうほけん), or national health insurance, is available for those without Employees’ Health Insurance.
The premiums are based on income so students with little or no income will have low payments. The rates are calculated based on jūminzei (住民税,じゅうみんぜい), or resident’s tax for the previous calendar year, which is determined in June. Annual National Health Insurance premiums are divided into 10 installments.
The monthly bills for Japan’s health insurance can easily be paid for at any convenience store in Japan.
To enroll, applicants should visit their local city/ward/village office with their Japanese IDs to fill out an application. It may be easiest if you enroll for the national health insurance on the same day as you register for your Zairyū card.
People are required to join within two weeks of becoming eligible, including change in employment status or moves from one municipality to another. Those that do not register when they become eligible can be charged for up to two years of back payments.
The National Health Insurance covers 70% of the medical bills, while the insurer is responsible for the remainder. Patients must show the insurance card at every doctor’s visit.
Some schools offer an affordable add-on insurance that covers 100% of their students’ medical expenses if an accident happens in Japan.
Exceptions for usage
- Failure to follow doctor’s instructions regarding treatment.
- Intentionally inflicted injury or illness resulting from crime or suicide.
- Injury or illness resulting from a fight or drunkenness.
- Treatment unrelated to illness (health examinations, preventative injections, cosmetic surgery, orthodontic work, normal child delivery/abortion for economic reasons, etc.).
- Private or semi-private room upgrade charges during hospitalization.
- Injury during work (should be covered by worker’s compensation or employer).
It’s also important to note that National Health Insurance does not cover contraceptives such as the birth control pill and others.
Consequences of not being insured
Without enrollment into the national health insurance system, patients are responsible for 100% of medical bills, which may be costly. There have been many cases of students who forwent enrolling in the system and suffered great losses from the necessity of emergency care, consequently not being able to stay in Japan thereafter.
All long-term students should enroll in the National Health Insurance system as soon as they arrive in Japan. For short-term students, applying for overseas medical insurance from a company in your home country before leaving for Japan is recommended. All students that come to Japan through Go! Go! Nihon will be reminded to get proper insurance to ensure all students to feel safe and secure during their time in Japan.
As mentioned above, it is advisable for short-term students to look into getting medical insurance before they come to Japan. Go! Go! Nihon is partnered with a company called AVI which provides travel insurance, offers services in multiple languages, and can give special benefits to our students. You can get coverage for your entire stay, down to the day, so you don’t pay more than you have to, and don’t miss any coverage.
This is also an interesting option for long-term students who wish to receive full coverage while they are in Japan, or want to make sure they are covered while waiting for the National Health Insurance to become active.
Contact us, and we will be happy to support you in this as well as part of our free service.