Panel OKs higher fees for visits to doctor

Kyodo

An advisory panel to the health minister on Wednesday approved increases for medical consultation fees that doctors charge patients for initial and follow-up visits.

The increases will take effect April 1.

The Central Social Insurance Medical Council endorsed a hike of ¥120 for the initial visit to ¥2,820 and ¥30 for follow-up visits to ¥720, officials of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

The hikes are designed to offset higher costs for medical equipment and drug purchases at clinics and hospitals stemming from the April 1 increase in the sales tax.

Patients are basically obliged to pay 10 to 30 percent of medical expenses, with the remainder to be shouldered under a range of insurance schemes, including the government-run insurance system.

Basic charges for hospital stays will be raised by around 2 percent, officials said.

For dental clinics, the panel endorsed a hike of ¥160 for the first consultation to ¥2,340 and an increase of ¥30 for follow-up consultations to ¥450.

The hikes were sought by the Japan Medical Association, the nation’s biggest group of doctors, and opposed by corporate health insurance associations.