• Jiji

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Medical fees paid to hospitals and clinics in Japan in fiscal 2019 grew 2.3 % from the preceding year to a record ¥44.3 trillion, the health ministry said in a final report Tuesday.

In the year to March 2020, per capita medical expenses rose 2.5 % to ¥351,800, also a record high.

The country's medical costs exceeded ¥40 trillion for the seventh consecutive year, reflecting the aging of its population and advances in medical technologies.

The COVID-19 pandemic had little impact on the fiscal 2019 results as the novel coronavirus was not fully spreading in the country at the time.

Medical costs for people aged 65 or over came to ¥27 trillion, accounting for some 60 % of the total. Per capita expenses stood at ¥754,200 for people in the age group, far more than ¥191,900 for those aged 64 or under.

Of the total expenses, ¥16.9 trillion was covered with public funds from the central and local governments and ¥22 trillion with health insurance premiums, while ¥5.2 trillion was borne by patients themselves.

Among the country's 47 prefectures, per capita expenses were the highest in Kochi, western Japan, at ¥463,700, followed by Nagasaki, southwestern Japan, at ¥433,600, and Kagoshima, also western Japan, at ¥433,400. The costs were the lowest in Chiba, east of Tokyo, at ¥308,500.

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