Running head: JAPANESE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM Japanese Healthcare System Makeba A. Smith Rasmussen College Author Note This research is being submitted on June 11, 2011 for Laura Sheneman’s H200/HSA2117 Section 03 US Healthcare Systems course. Japanese Healthcare System Japanese people enjoy longer, healthier lives at low costs. They have well balanced diets and low infant mortality rates. Unlike the United States, Japan has universal healthcare coverage consisting of three categories of insurance.

Those insurances are employer based insurance, national insurance, and insurance for the elderly. These programs are financed mainly by the government and private employers. Whereas, in the United States, health insurance coverage is financed mainly by the private sector. This research will focus on the lifestyles and healthcare coverage of the Japanese society. Japan is extremely overpopulated with approximately 127 million people (“International Health Systems Japan,” 2010). Even with such a dense population, the people of Japan still have a well balanced nutrition.

The Japanese’ practice of eating foods with low levels of fats and protein along with lower levels of salt contributes to their long lives. Decreasing the amounts of salt in their diets also reduces the chances of getting hypertension and diabetes (Saigusa, 2006). Infant mortality rates in Japan have decreased to one of the world’s lowest levels (Saigusa, 2006). According to Saigusa (2006), this is because births usually occur to women between the ages of 25-29 and 99. 7 percent of births are attended by qualified professionals.

In addition, abortion is only made available when contraceptives fail (Saigusa, 2006). The citizens of Japan are also highly literate. As a result they seek medical advice early on in their pregnancies (“International Health Systems Japan,” 2010). Japan also provides systems of community support and education from time of conception. The availability of vaccination against infections such as tuberculosis, measles, and diphtheria has also contributed to the decrease in infant mortality (Saigusa, 2006). Every resident in Japan is entitled to healthcare coverage regardless of age or financial standing.

In contrast, the United States is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not ensure that all citizens have some kind of private or public health insurance. In 2004, the Institute of Medicine report observed that the lack of health insurance caused about 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year in the US (Insuring America’s Health: Principles and Recommendations, 2004). While a 2009 Harvard study estimated that 44,800 excess deaths occurred annually due to lack of health insurance (Wilper et al. , 2009). Health insurance in Japan is broken down into three categories.

First, there is employer based health insurance. Employer based insurance provides coverage to employees of companies with more than five but less than three hundred workers. Premium contributions are split evenly between employees and employers. Employer based insurance is divided into three subdivisions. Society manages plans which cover employees of large companies and are paid for by the employers and employees. These plans are not subsidized by the government. The second subdivision of employer based insurance is government managed health insurance. This coverage is for employees of small to medium sized companies.

The government subsidizes the benefit costs and fully covers administrative costs. Finally, mutual aid associations receive no government subsidies and covers civil servants and teachers (“International Health Systems Japan,” 2010). The second kind of insurance coverage offered to Japanese citizens is national health insurance. National health insurance provides coverage to those not eligible for employee based insurance. This includes farmers, self employed individuals, the unemployed, retirees, and expectant mothers (“International Health Systems Japan,” 2010).

The premium for this insurance is split evenly between employees and employers. There is a thirty percent coinsurance for all health care costs (“International Health Systems Japan,” 2010). The third and final health insurance provided to Japan’s citizens is health insurance for the elderly. This plan covers the elderly and disabled. This is a long term care insurance that offers home care, respite care, or institutional care depending on the needs of the individual. Most of the cost is covered by the insurance.

This insurance was put in place to cover the elderly especially since Japanese people have a long life expectancy. This in turn places the responsibility of paying for medical care on the government and takes it away from the individual and their families (“International Health Systems Japan. ” 2010). The healthcare system in Japan is based on a free practice and universal health insurance system (Saigusa, 2006). Healthcare providers can open clinics at their own discretion and because all Japanese are covered by some form of insurance they can receive treatment at any healthcare facility they choose.

On the other hand, in the US, individuals with private or government insurance are limited to medical facilities which accept the particular type of medical insurance they carry. Visits to facilities outside the insurance program’s “network” are usually either not covered or the patient must bear more of the cost. Japanese people are able to detect diseases early and receive treatment because of their easy access to healthcare. This again contributes to their long life expectancy. The healthcare system is financed by both public and private payers.

The benefits of insurance plans are basically the same. Premiums are based on income and the individual’s ability to pay (Saigusa, 2006). According to Saigusa (2006), Japan pays between fifty-five to sixty-four billion dollars a year for healthcare a year. The country will continue to pay large amounts of money to support mainly small farmers and self employed individuals with low incomes. Due to the high amounts of money spent on providing equal healthcare coverage to citizens, Japanese doctors make less money than doctors in the United States and administrative costs are four times lower in the U.

S. (Saigusa, 2006). More money per person is spent on healthcare in the USA than in any other nation in the world. The World Health Organization (WHO), in 2000, ranked the U. S. healthcare system as the highest in cost, first in responsiveness, 37th in overall performance, and 72nd by overall level of health (World Health Statistics, 2009). Hospitals and physicians in Japan are not for profit even though the majority of them are privately owned. According to the Saigusa (2010), Japan has 15. inpatient hospital beds per 1,000 persons and 21 physicians and 95 nurses per 10,000 people. The country has a low rate of hospital admissions with an average length of stay of 36 nights. Hospitals are reimbursed on a per diem basis. Japan’s healthcare system utilizes the latest advances in technology when providing care to patients. More than half the country’s hospitals have whole body computerized tomography (CT) scans and about thirty percent of hospitals have magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners.

In 2005, Japan had the highest number of MRI scanners than any other country (“International Health Systems Japan,” 2010). In conclusion, healthcare in Japan is provided free to every Japanese citizen. There are numerous public and private hospitals and clinics in the country and the people are free to choose whichever facility they want to receive treatment. Japan is also the world’s leading country in technology and this is made evident in the state of the art equipment that used in healthcare facilities around the country.

References Insuring America’s Health: Principles and Recommendations. (2004, January 13). Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Abstract retrieved from http://www. iom. edu/? Reports/? 2004/? Insuring-Americas-Health-Principles-and-Recommendations. aspx International Health Systems Japan [Fact Sheet]. (n. d. ). Retrieved May 8, 2011, from http://www. kaiseredu. org/? Issue-Modules/? International-Health-Systems/? Japan. aspx#Background Brief Saigusa, O. (2006, July 5). Japan’s healthcare system and pharmaceutical industry.

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