Survey reveals expatriate feelings about Japanese heathcare

Published:  21 Feb at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA
A recent survey involving expatriates working in Japan rates the Japanese heathcare system as better and less expensive than healthcare in their home countries.

Just over half the respondents to the Japan Times online survey were more than happy with Japanese healthcare provisions, rating the service higher than that of heathcare in their home countries. The trend was most noticeable amongst American expatriates, with 75 per cent comparing Obamacare unfavourably with its Japanese equivalent.

Affordability and the quality of care played a major part in respondents’ positive comments, although the complications of the system were seen as off-putting and difficult to understand for foreigners. Another negative concerned the bedside manners of Japanese doctors, seen as less friendly than that of medical professionals in their home countries.

Replies to the survey, graded from the first general comparison with home country heathcare to identifying the system’s strengths and weaknesses, showed the majority were satisfied with the service, but suggested there was room for improvement, Over 29 per cent of respondents felt Japanese heathcare was 'much better', with 25 per cent ticking the ‘slightly better’ box and 18 per cent of replies indicating the two systems were at the same level. Only 11 per cent felt the Japanese service was much worse, with 15 per cent saying it was ‘slightly worse’.

Strong points noted by the majority of respondents included affordability, high quality and efficiency, with weak points headed up by a lack of empathy in doctors. Inefficiency and the complexity of the bureaucratic procedure were also mentioned. One interesting discovery was that opinions tended to reflect the nationality of responders, as in high ratings from Americans for the Japanese universal coverage, similar to that of Obamacare.

The most serious criticisms were aimed at the lack of English-speaking medical professionals and the lack of language support for non-Japanese speakers, resulting in unclear diagnoses as well as the reluctance of Japanese nursing staff to communicate with expat patients. Several respondees referred to personal experiences of misdiagnosis and a few said they felt there was prejudice against foreigners.
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