Cost of Medical Care in Japan

Japan is known to have some of the highest life-expectancy rates around the globe. It’s also not news that the Japanese healthcare system falls in the league of the leading healthcare systems worldwide. The aching question at this point remains how expensive or reasonable is the cost of medical care in Japan.

Healthcare costs in Japan

Quality medical care at affordable prices seems to be the mantra when it comes to the Japanese healthcare system. The average amount spent by a person on healthcare in Japan is about $4752 every year, which is in stark difference to what the average US citizen shells out every year – $8895. Also, patient-wait times are relatively better in Japan – about 65 percent of patients who have chronic conditions receive medical attention on the same day, while it is about 26 percent in the US. The cost of medical care in Japan is undoubtedly more affordable when compared to the US. Even so, if you fall ill or get injured in an accident in Japan, your travel insurance can keep healthcare expenses in check. It can especially be useful in case the duration of hospitalization is longer or if it involves treating some serious conditions.

Comparing medical expenses

Expensive hip replacement surgeries that average at $39,299 in the US, and $11,600 in Canada are offered at prices like $4,126 in Japan. A cardiac bypass surgery with costs as steep as $151,886 in the US is drastically cut down to an average cost of $14,760 in Japan. An appendectomy that costs a whopping $29,499 in the US, costs a meagre $3,600. Similarly, if you were to compare the cost of a cataract surgery in Japan with that in the US, it would be scaled down by nearly a fourth, with the former costing $2,365 and the latter costing $8,233 proving that cost of medical care in Japan can be quite reasonable.

Other Considerations

Japan has a national health insurance system with universal access to healthcare. Anyone resident of Japan can visit any healthcare facility. The system does encourage referrals, particularly for specialist hospitals.  It is best to visit with a smaller clinic or general practitioner who can provide a referral when required. 

Prices for reimbursed procedures are set for residents with a 30% copay required. Prices for non-reimbursed procedures can be set freely by medical facilities and patients are required to pay 100% of the fees.

Many hospitals and clinics do not charge more for visitors from outside of the Japanese healthcare system. Some do have special pricing for patients visiting from abroad, which can range from 1.5 times to 3 times the cost for residents under the Japanese insurance system. If you are visiting from overseas, in most cases you will need to pay the full price by cash or credit card and ask for documentation to seek reimbursement from your travel insurer or insurance company back home.


*The medical expenses in the above paragraphs refer to the cost of the procedure per year per person in USD. These are illustrative as prices may vary according to Japanese government policy and exchange rates.