It is now certain that Japan's total medical expenditures in fiscal 2014 will top ¥40 trillion for the first time ever. As the aging of the population will inevitably expand medical costs, it will become increasingly important for individual citizens to do whatever they can do to put the brakes on the rise in the expenses. This is indispensable if Japan is to make the best use of its finite financial resources available for social welfare and to prevent the collapse of the nation's medical services.

The preliminary figure for total medical spending, which does not include spending from the labor accident compensation insurance scheme or payments made by individuals who had to shoulder all of their medical costs without public health insurance coverage in the year to last March, reached some ¥39.96 trillion, an increase of some ¥700 billion, or 1.8 percent, from the previous fiscal year.

Since this figure normally accounts for 98 percent of all medical expenditures, the latter figure will most likely have topped ¥40 trillion. The margin of increase was slightly lower than in the previous fiscal year thanks to the shrinking population and greater use of less expensive generic drugs.