• Iwanai, Hokkaido


Regarding Jenny Uechi’s July 28 Zeit Gist article, “New law: no dues, no visa”: It seems more than a little unethical that some employers have skipped getting insurance for their workers, considering how expensive medical care can be. My husband and I have been here two years, and as soon as we were settled in, his employer made sure we went down to town hall and registered for the health insurance program.

It’s a good thing, too, because we’ve had a few medical mishaps that required a doctor and one hospital stay for my husband. We also decided to have our son here. We’ve never felt shorted. The upside of all of this is that our visa renewals won’t be affected a bit — and we got financial aid with everyone else when the economy tanked.

The insurance IS expensive but worth it. When my son was born, we paid ¥50,000 for the same medical care that my friend paid $10,000 for in the United States. Before this, we lived in China, where there is no medical insurance for most foreigners unless you go out of your way to get it — and spend a lot of money — and where you’re very lucky to find an English-speaking doctor outside of Shanghai or Beijing. I also had some bad, and expensive, experiences with the U.S. medical system. Puts a lot in perspective. I didn’t realize my husband’s employers had to pay so much for our insurance, though. Next time I see them, I’ll thank them again.

kim bernard

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