Healthcare in Tokyo



The healthcare system of Japan is very efficient and easily accessible. Healthcare services in Tokyo can be deemed one of the highest quality in Asia. The biggest challenge for expats might be in terms of communication, as the medical staff might not be completely fluent in English.  

Japan's capital city of Tokyo falls under the NHI or National Health Insurance. The NHI has two divisions, NHI and SHI (Social Health Insurance), with the former covering farmers, fishermen, small business owners, self-employed individuals, part-time employees and eligible foreigners. The latter on the other hand, covers legitimate employees, both Japanese and foreigners.

All foreigners who have been residents in Japan for more than one year, as well as Japanese citizens who are under 75 years old, are eligible to apply for public health insurance. However, those who are already receiving public assistance are not qualified to sign up for NHI.

How to Apply

Application for public health insurance begins by submitting an application form to the city's municipal office.

Once your application has been accepted, you will be provided with an insurance card which you can then use to access health or medical services. Your information must be kept updated, especially with changes in personal information such as a change in address or the birth or addition of a new dependent.

Any necessary changes to be made to your NHI card will require you to submit accompanying documents for verification. A change in employer or employment status also requires a change in your NHI information. For specific details you may visit the website of the National Health Insurance Forum.


The amount of premium you have to pay for public health coverage through NHI will be computed based on your income in the previous year. Expatriates who are just starting out a new life in Tokyo will be pleased to know this, as this translates to smaller deductions for at least the first year of your stay.

Bear in mind however that the rate of premiums may vary depending on which municipality you live in. As most expatriates fall under the SHI division, you can expect to pay somewhere around 8% of your annual income for the premiums, with your employer making an equal contribution.

If you have enlisted dependents or family members for NHI coverage, it is your responsibility to settle premium payments as the head of the household.

Healthcare for Expats

Tokyo is known all over the world for being the hub of technology. Coupled with the government's initiative to offer better quality health care and better medical facilities, this is an expatriate ideal.

Japan's health care system covers about 70% to 75% of medical expenses. Coverage usually applies to ongoing or acquired illness and laboratory tests needed in connection with the treatment of an ongoing illness.

Pregnancy-related consultations and operations, treatment of self-inflicted injuries, and vaccines are just some of the medical expenses not covered through the National Health Insurance system.

Most expatriates, if not all, opt to have international health care insurance instead to ensure medical coverage at any given time and situation.Make sure before you actually move to Tokyo that you have already made a decision to go public or private as far as health care coverage is concerned. Once you have applied for NHI, getting off or opting out of the system is a complex and most often, tiresome process.

One noted advantage of private health care is the accessibility to more English-speaking medical professionals. For any emergency cases you may call the Japan Helpline at 0120 461 997. English-language emergency support is also available through this number 24 hours a day.


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Healthcare In Japan