Health Insurance / social security system in Japan

Yaaay team December 5, 2023
Three smiling employees sitting at their desks in front of their computers.
Japan has social insurance systems. In principle, everybody residing in Japan must take part in the medical insurance and pension insurance system.

There are four kinds of insurance systems;
- Health Insurance
- Occupational Injury Insurance
- Unemployment Insurance
- Employees' Pension Insurance

In this article, we will explain about Health Insurance.

Who can be covered?

Generally, all employees of a company are covered. Part-time employees are covered as long as their scheduled working hours are at least 75% of those of full-time employees.

Employees dispatched from overseas headquarters, as well as presidents and representative directors of joint-stock companies are also eligible. However, those dispatched to Japan from the U.S., Belgium, France, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Hungary, and Luxembourg who are covered by medical insurance in these countries are exempt from coverage in Japan.

Dependents of the insured (those whose livelihood is primarily supported by the insured) are also covered by the insurance.

What are the benefits?

The main benefit for the insured is the use of insured medical care.
This is a system under which the insured person pays 20-30% of the over-the-counter costs when receiving medical treatment (medical care, treatment, prescriptions, etc.) at insured medical institutions. The percentage of the cost covered by the insurance differs depending on the age and income of the patient.

Foreign nationals insured under this system can receive reimbursement after returning to Japan if they have paid for medical treatment at a medical institution in their own country or other countries outside of Japan. Medical expenses incurred overseas will be converted to Japanese medical expenses, and 70% of the amount will be reimbursed.

As a part of the benefits of Health Insurance, there is also an Excessive Medical Expenses Reimbursement System. Under this system, if the maximum out-of-pocket amount for medical expenses charged by a hospital or clinic exceeds a certain amount during the period from the first day of the calendar month to the last day of the calendar month, the excess amount will be reimbursed upon request of the insured person.

Companies must enroll all employees in social insurance

You may not want to join a Japanese health insurance system. For example, if you are already covered by insurance in your home country. However, Japanese companies are legally obliged to take part in the systems. It means that all workers who meet certain criteria are covered by the insurance. 

You can find an overview of Japanese health insurance at the following URL.
Japan Pension Service website:

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