Getting Health Insurance in Japan

Last week I posted an article about finding a room in Japan, as well as an article about registering your address at city hall. In that same vein, providing some assistance for people coming to Japan for the same time, I thought it would be useful to also post articles about getting health insurance, paying pension and taxes among others. Today, let me introduce to health insurance in Japan.

If you are a resident of Japan (i.e. living in Japan on a visa that is valid for longer than three months), you are legally obligated to get health insurance. You can get travel insurance or private health insurance from your home country, but there may be many medical facilities in Japan who do not accept that kind of insurance. But not to worry, there are two types of insurance available for residents of Japan.

First is the Employees Health Insurance (kenkou hoken, 健康保険). If you are an employee at a company or factory etc., you will be entered into this insurance by your employer automatically when you start working. The premium is deducted from your salary and your employer will handle payment on your behalf. If there are no deductions on your salary statement, make sure to check with your employer whether you have been properly entered into the insurance plan or not. As a paying member of the Employees Health Insurance, if you present your insurance card at the counter of a medical institution, you will only have to pay 30% of any medical fee (some treatments are excluded, however, make sure to check in advance), with the insurance paying for the remaining 70%. 

If you are not an employee, but a student or self-employed (or work part-time for 30 hours/week or less), you will be able to apply for the National Health Insurance (kokumin kenkou hoken, 国民健康保険). In this case, you have to apply for the insurance by yourself, at the relevant counter in your city hall, when you register yourself as a resident of Japan. After applying for the insurance, you will receive your insurance card and a bunch of payment slips in the post. You can then use these payment slips to make the payment for your insurance premium. You can pay at the city hall, a bank or a convenience store with cash, or you can set up a bank transfer. You will receive usually up to six months’ worth of payment slips, but you do not have to pay them off one by one. You can simply take all of them to the Konbini at once and pay up to six months in advance. Your premium is calculated on your income from the year before, so if you are a student or just started working part-time in Japan, the premium might be quite low.

Just like paying into the pension fund or paying your taxes, paying for health insurance is a legal obligation for any resident of Japan. If you are looking for a hospital or clinic that has English (or another Language) speaking staff, you can search via the following link:

I hope that this article has been useful to some of you. Not paying your health insurance on time may have consequences on potential visa renewal and so forth, so I recommend taking this system seriously. Depending on where you are from, you might already be used to the concept of mandatory health insurance, but even if your home country does not have a similar system, I encourage you to embrace the Japanese way. When in Rome, do as the Romans do and all that.


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