Get up, come on get down with the sickness!
I hope you had a great weekend. I had the first relaxing weekend since June and I got sick. So that is going to be the topic of this blog entry – “being sick in Japan”.
Japan has a universal health care system that is managed by the central government. When I first moved to Japan my father told me how horrible universal healthcare was. He said you had to go to certain doctors only and you could only get certain medicines and only get certain medical procedures, only after going through several layers of red tape.
While he was correct about the red tape he was wrong about most everything else. A brief overview of the system is that every person in Japan who is working is required to be enrolled in the healthcare system. There are private health care providers, too but I don’t know much about them so I won’t write about them. Under the national health care plan, patients can undergo most medical procedures paying %30 of the bill while the government will pick up the rest of the bill.
Unlike what my dad thought, patients can choose any physician they want to go to as well as any hospital or clinic and cannot be denied access by law (unless that facility cannot do the procedure the patient wants). All hospitals and clinics are run by physicians by law and not businesses which leads to great health care but not so good looking or maintained medical facilities (sometimes).
One of the biggest benefits of living in Japan is also one of the downfalls of living in Japan. Access to medical equipment like MRI machines and other high quality machines are higher in Japan than almost any other developed country (Wikepedia). This coupled with the medical rates, leads to a lot of shortages because everyone is using them. One of the biggest and most cited examples is that of the use of ambulances. Japanese people are notorious for calling ambulances for the most minor of problems.
For example my neighbor is 90 and he recently died, but before he died he called the ambulance three times in a week for simple things like a headache, a splinter and other minor issues. This issue is a double edged sword, on one side it is good because the people have access whenever they want to medical facilities, but at the same time it ties up resources that could be used for others who are really in trouble. This is why the medical rates and access may change in the future under “Abenomics”.
So, what do you think? What experiences have you had with healthcare and how could Japan change their healthcare system to make it even better? Leave your comments, I would love to hear what you have to say!
(Also ten bouns points if you can tell me what song and artist the title of the blog is from)