• Jiji

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Medical expenses in Japan in fiscal 2019, which ended in March this year, grew 2.4 percent from the previous year to a record ¥43.6 trillion, the health ministry said in a preliminary report Friday.

The amount of money paid to medical institutions for treating diseases and injuries hit an all-time high for the third straight year, reflecting the country’s aging population and advances in medical technologies.

In March alone, however, medical costs fell 1.2 percent year on year, apparently because many people refrained from visiting medical institutions due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

With spending seen to have continued falling in April and later, an official of the ministry said, “We’ll keep a close watch on the trend.”

Expenses stood at ¥17.6 trillion, or 40.5 percent of the total, for inpatient treatment, ¥14.9 trillion, or 34.1 percent, for outpatient treatment and ¥7.7 trillion, or 17.8 percent, for dispensing medicines.

Per-capita expenses rose by ¥8,000 to ¥345,000. Medical expenses for those aged 75 or over averaged ¥952,000, over four times the average of ¥226,000 for those under 75.

The reported medical expenses represent the total amount of payments from the public health insurance system, other public expenses and out-of-pocket costs shouldered by patients. Medical costs fully paid by patients and those covered by the worker compensation system are not included.

The preliminary total accounts for 98 percent of all national medical expenses in Japan in fiscal 2019.

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