Challenges before the Japanese Healthcare sector

In Japan, health care system provides healthcare services. A country where the government has well controlled cost over decades by using the nationally uniform fee schedule for reimbursement. The government is also able to reduce fees when the economy stagnates. In the 1980s, health care spending was rapidly increasing as was the case with many industrialized nations. While some countries like the U.S. allowed costs to rise, Japan tightly regulated the health industry to rein in costs. Fees for all health care services are set every two years by negotiations between the health ministry and physicians.

Japan based in the Pacific Ocean happens to be the world’s 4th largest island country and encompasses about 6,852 islands. It has five main islands: Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and Okinawa which make up about 97% percent of Japan’s land area. Japan is the 2nd most populous island country with a population of approximately 126 million makes it the is world’s eleventh largest country population wise. About 13.8 million people live in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world with
over 38 million people.

Japan adopted universal healthcare coverage in 1961 and has kept the same system of high-level, affordable care ever since. While free access and low costs have had a positive impact on the population, such as increasing longevity to an average life span of 83.7 years, the system also has its limitations and it is worth mentioning that currently, Japan is ageing faster than any other nation.

The health care system in Japan provides healthcare services, including screening examinations, prenatal care and infectious disease control, with the patient accepting responsibility for 30% of these costs while the government pays the remaining 70%. Payment for personal medical services is offered by a universal health care insurance system that provides relative equality of access, with fees set by a government committee. All residents of Japan are required by the law to have health insurance coverage. People without insurance from employers can participate in a national health insurance programme, administered by local governments. Patients are free to select physicians or facilities of their choice and cannot be denied coverage. Hospitals, by law, must be run as non-profit and be managed by physicians. For-profit corporations are not allowed to own or operate hospitals. Clinics must be owned and operated by physicians.

Medical fees are strictly regulated by the government to keep them affordable.

Depending on the family’ income and the age of the insured, patients are responsible for paying 10%, 20%, or 30% of medical fees, with the government paying the remaining fee.Also, monthly thresholds are set for each household, again depending on income and age, and medical fees exceeding the threshold are waived or reimbursed by the government. Uninsured patients are responsible for paying 100% of their medical fees, but fees are waived for low-income households receiving a government subsidy.
Challenges faced by Japanese healthcare sector:

The major challenge faced by the health care sector in Japan is that increase in the number of patients and decrease of medical staff led to a significant overall growth of medical care expenditures in Japan, expected to reach
€420 Billion by 2025. Healthcare policymaking in Japan is focused on overcoming these challenges and creating a more sustainable system, using both local and international resources. The government is committed to initiating new healthcare measures, meant to reduce expenditure and improve care standards, by revising the policy and introducing new programmes, such as the Integrated Community Care System and Japan Health Care Vision.

Besides major system changes, the government is also looking at new technologies to revolutionize the healthcare industry. No doubt that Japan is a technology and innovation frontrunner, some solutions are only produced outside its borders. The Japanese healthcare system is designed to ensure it provides the best solutions and care to its citizens, this put extra pressure on the companies trying to export the products or services into Japan. They have to be sure that meet the high-standard criteria imposed by the market. Only high quality, cost- efficient, sustainable, innovative solutions that can fill the current medical gaps and can help reduce the burden on healthcare professionals have a chance on the market.

Major challenges faced by the health care sector in Japan are its ageing population causing a shortage of labor and subsequent decrease in the overall size of its domestic market. This makes it necessary that Japan needs healthcare innovation a little more than most countries.

The major challenge faced by the health care sector in Japan is that increase in the number of patients and decrease of medical staff led to a significant overall growth of medical care expenditures in Japan, expected to reach
€420 Billion by 2025.