Healthcare and medical care
Japan´s National Health Insurance System covers the whole population. In general, healthcare is of a high standard. There are clinics as well as hospitals in Japan. There are a wide range of clinics, and practices with only one doctor are called clinics too. These are frequently specialised in a particular field of medicine. The insured party can choose themselves which clinic and hospital to use. The prices are the same in all units. You should check the opening hours beforehand as they may be irregular, especially at small clinics.
If you become ill, you should turn to a clinic first. If necessary, a doctor will provide you with a referral for hospital. Medicines and so-called “over-the-counter products”, such as painkillers and bandage supplies, are sold both in pharmacies and in over-the-counter stores. Prescription medicines can only be obtained from pharmacies. You can receive reimbursement for medicines only if you are covered under health insurance in Japan.
Persons staying in Japan on a temporary basis, i.e. less than a year, are not covered by the national health insurance system. In this case, advance payment in full or a payment commitment by an insurance company is necessary before treatment can be started.
Healthcare services for foreigners are of a high standard. Prices are comparatively high. A number of general practitioners and specialists in Tokyo focus on treating foreign patients. You can request a list of these treatment providers from the Finnish Embassy in Tokyo. Specialisation in treating foreigners is not quite so wide outside large cities, nor do staff always speak English. When travelling to Japan, you should take out comprehensive travel insurance. In particular, repatriation in the case of illness or death is extremely expensive and difficult to arrange without private travel insurance.
The City of Tokyo maintains a telephone service: Tokyo Metropolitan Medical Institution Information Himawari. Call 03–5285–8181 (from abroad +81 3 5285 8181) to obtain information about healthcare services providers in the Tokyo area, and about the health insurance system. The service is available daily from 9 am to 8 pm in English, among other languages. The operator will find a clinic which meets your requirements and will then call you back. An interpretation service by telephone is available from 5 pm to 8 pm on 03–5285–8185 if you are hospitalised and your treatment is proving problematic because of language difficulties. You can also search for contact information for hospitals and clinics on the service´s website.