• Kyodo

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The health ministry plans to probe cases of unpaid medical expenses charged to foreign tourists, calling for the use of travel insurance and looking at other ways to tackle the problem.

The ministry announced earlier this month that it would study the total value of unpaid bills and the number of cases at 7,000 hospitals across the country. The probe comes amid reports that foreign tourists who underwent treatment at hospitals in Osaka Prefecture, within a three-month period last year, left unpaid bills exceeding ¥15 million, according to the Kinki District Transport Bureau, which surveyed hospitals in the prefecture. About 30 percent of the surveyed institutions said they had not received payment in some cases.

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