Guide to Health Insurance in Japan

If you are relocating to Japan, travelling there or simply looking for a new international health insurance provider, it is essential to know what health insurance options are available to you, and the state of the healthcare system in general.


Japan has a large population of over 127 million, putting it at number 10 in the World rankings for population size, and a male life expectancy of 80.1 years and a female life expectancy of 87 years. These life expectancies are the highest in the world, attributed largely to Japan's culture, and an extremely developed and modern infrastructure which encompasses the health care system, despite relatively high rates of smoking and suicide. The Japanese have a world class level of national health structured under the country’s universal healthcare system, which is similar to the structure of healthcare in Canada and the UK. This system provides all types of care at a low cost to the public, and is placed 10th in the world according to the World Health Organization.

Healthcare facilities

The Japanese demographic is representative of any highly developed country with a good healthcare system, including a negative population growth rate and a median age of 44.8 years. Like many other countries, health insurance is required by law, but not only is this law not acted upon, most Japanese citizens who have medical treatment and do not have coverage often have the fees waived if they are on low-income or are homeless. Health insurance is low cost and highly regulated, with citizens paying between 10% and 30% of medical costs (acquired through health insurance plans), and the government subsidising the rest. Despite this low cost in comparison to other developed nations, the overall quality of healthcare is extremely good, with excellent per-capita coverage, accessibility and patient-choice, with citizens utilising the health care system much more than other nations.

Japan's hospitals are a mix of national publicly owned and private clinics, widely available in and around the central conurbation and larger towns, and all at a high standard. One of the best hospitals in Tokyo is the Kanto Medical Centre.

You must equip yourself with adequate health cover for travelling to Japan, as there are no reciprocal plans like those that exist between certain other nations. Treatment is expensive and without insurance you will have to pay for the costs yourself. You should also be aware of formal Japanese customs when consulting with professional practitioners.

Before you go

There are no special medications or vaccinations required for a normal visit to Japan, and there are no endemic diseases. For long periods of travel in rural areas, vaccinations may be advised – please contact your practitioner.

Next steps

You can secure a quote for one of our WorldCare plans to cover you during your stay in Japan, with access to treatment available worldwide. Comprehensive cover is made simple with online plan purchase and management available.

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