Social Insurance, NHI and Private Health Insurance in Japan

HealthyTOKYO is keen to help you stay healthy in Japan. But accidents happen, and everyone falls ill sooner or later. So what is the difference between Social Insurance, NHI and Private Health Insurance in Japan? And what is really covered?

With constant reviewing of insurance policies available, a stable of international healthcare providers and over 35 years of experience in assisting the expat community in Japan with health insurance needs, we thought it was best to turn to Banner Japan for advice on the matter. Banner Japan works with a panel of insurers such as Aetna, BUPA, Expacare, GoodHealth, GlobalHealth Asia, and IMG to name a few.

For both employees and employers, Banner Japan has put together a short guide to Social Insurance, NHI and Private Health Insurance in Japan.


Social Insurance (Shakai Hoken)

Not everyone is eligible to join Shakai Hoken and the application is made via the employer. Monthly premiums are salary linked and deducted directly from employee’s paycheck. Employers pay an equal contribution each month. By joining Social Insurance, one must also join the Employees’ Pension Insurance scheme. Members of this scheme pay 30% of their medical costs, covering sickness, injury and necessary dental work.


National Health Insurance (Kokumin Kenko Hoken)

All foreign residents with a valid visa for a year or more, can join the NHI, National Health Insurance. Unlike Social Insurance, NHI is open to people who are not employed (expectant mothers, students, retirees, etc.). Premiums are calculated on a yearly basis (April – March) based on the insured person’s resident tax, property owned and number of dependents. Just like Social Insurance, National Health Insurance premiums are based on salary which can be paid by bank transfer or at the local ward or city office. Primary members and their dependents pay 30% for inpatient or outpatient costs.


Private Health Insurance

Private Health Insurance is open to any one (and their dependants) of any nationality, regardless of their visa status and employment contract. Private health insurance premiums are age-related and operate in a series of age brackets and are usually paid by credit card, bank check or bank transfer. Private insurance is customizable to a much higher degree and the amount of deductible (the cost of treatment the insured individual must pay) can be tailored to the insured person’s needs. Plans cover in-patient and outpatient treatment as well as dental treatment, have 100% cover for cancer and 100% coverage worldwide.


Points to Consider

While National health insurance (NHI) is good, there are drawbacks. Japanese National Health Insurance only covers 70% and can limit your options of doctors and treatments. And depending on your income, NHI can turn out to be expensive. Coverage area should also be considered. With a Private Health Insurance, it is possible to be moved home and continue the treatment. NHI will unfortunately leave you without cover the minute you leave the country.

And finally, having your health insurance through your employer can be a great risk. There are horror cases of employees in treatment being laid off and left stranded without coverage.


If you want help with sorting out your options, all you have to do is give Banner Japan a call and they will provide a number of plans and help you individually or your entire office achieve the best healthcare coverage at the best price. 

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