Foreign ex-pat health insurance sounds good, but can be problematic for both the patient and the health care provider, since it often has deductibles and excludes pre-existing conditions. Unless there is a contractual agreement between the hospital and the insurer, the patient still has to pay up front in most cases. A large bill of, say, ¥1 million or more can create a major crisis. Most Japanese hospitals cannot direct-bill foreign insurers, comprehend denials, or provide comprehensive medical records and detailed itemized billing in English. In addition, they face long delays in getting paid.
If, for example, you are a foreign teacher working on a part-time basis, simply enroll in Japanese national insurance for the self-employed. It is easy, reasonable and avoids financial strain if health care is urgently needed.
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