Pondering the Possibility of Medical Travel? Consider All Costs
When considering the costs of traveling overseas for healthcare or wellness, you should not only factor in the stated prices from healthcare facilities, but also look into the following:
- Transportation to and from your home country. Also consider that followup visits may be necessary for some procedures.
- The potential for additional procedural costs based on further diagnosis and additional requirements.
- Accommodations in the hospital. A private room will cost more than a shared room, and a VIP suite will of course be pricier than both.
- Travel and accommodation for any family or friends accompanying you.
- Follow-up costs in your home country.
- Translation and interpretation costs where applicable.
- The costs of leisure travel if you plan to do any sightseeing before or after your healthcare procedures.
- Phones, meals and other amenities that you might require.
Insurance in Japan
If you live in Japan, you are either covered by a private (usually company) health insurance plan or you are a member of the country’s National Health Insurance system. Please have a look at the links below for additional information.
If you are using National Health Insurance for reimbursable procedures, your co-pay will generally be 30 percent and be capped at certain levels. For nonreimbursable elective procedures, however, medical facilities can set prices as they like.
If you are paying in cash or using third-party insurance, keep in mind that some hospitals might charge a premium for overseas guests. This premium allows them to recoup specific costs associated with helping overseas patients, such as interpretation, translation, additional consultation time and other services. The overall cost is still many times less than that for similar procedures in many countries.
Although most hospitals and clinics here do not accept overseas medical insurance for payment, they will provide the paperwork necessary for you to file the claim with your insurance provider back home. In this case, you will need to pay in cash or by credit card and seek reimbursement from your provider later. Important note: Checks are not generally accepted in Japan.
The overall cost of living in Japan tends to be higher than other places in Asia. However, there are accommodations, restaurants and things to do for people on a tight budget—and the best of the best for those with more substantial means.
When it comes to healthcare, costs are relatively low compared with the cost of living. Japan is not the low-cost option in the region, but prices for cancer, cardiac and other treatments are generally competitive depending on the procedure. They tend to be closer to prices in Singapore and Korea than to those in Thailand or Malaysia.
Health screening centers abound in Japan and are truly reasonably priced, easily rivaling the low-cost offerings in other countries in Asia. Standard health screenings run about US$300 to $500. A premium course including cancer markers, blood and urine work, EKG, chest x-rays, endoscopy, ultrasound, head MRI and CT can be as little as US$1,000. PET exams are also readily available.
Cosmetic and dental procedures that are not reimbursed tend to run a bit higher in price than in other Asian destinations, but the reputation of the fine work done in Japan in both areas is often reason enough for people to pay the extra. Recent offerings of regeneration (stem cell) treatments not widely available elsewhere are also attracting more patients to Japan.
If you are considering Japan or any other country in Asia for a medical or wellness trip, please contact HealthyIM and we will provide more specific advice.
Japan News & Features
Are Japanese Interested in Outbound Medical Tourism?
Medical tourism—which takes in anyone who crosses international borders to receive medical care—is a very healthy industry. Patients Beyond Borders believes the market is worth between US$24 and $40 billion, based on approximately eight million cross-border patients worldwide spending an average of US$3,000 to $5,000 per visit. Professor Helmut Wachowiak, an expert on tourism management at the International University of Applied Sciences at Bad Honnef in Germany, says the market is already worth $40 billion to $60 billion, and is growing at about 20 percent a year.
Japanese Hospital Visit - Seven things you need to know
Navigating a healthcare system in a foreign country is seldom easy, especially if you don’t know the system or speak the language well. Before you visit a Japanese hospital—on an emergency basisor otherwise—here are seven things you should know:
Japan's medical system provides some of the world’s best healthcare
To gauge a health-care system’s success, it’s standard to consider three points: quality, coverage, and cost. On all three measures, Japan stands at or near the top in every comparative ranking. The Japanese have the world’s longest life expectancy and the best recovery rates from just about every major disease. Infant mortality is less than half the U.S. rate. Japan usually leads the world in rankings of “avoidable mortality” -its effectiveness in curing diseases that can be cured.
- T.R. Reid, Newsweek, August 16, 2010
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