Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare recently approved an increase on medical consultation fees charged by doctors. The hike will take effect on April 1 and will be applicable to initial consultations and follow-up visits of the patients.
The increase was approved to address the rising costs of medical equipment and drug prices at clinics and hospitals. This is also because of the anticipated hike in sales taxes from 5 to 8 percent, which will also take effect on April 1 and is part of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s third arrow of Abeonomics. Patients are required to shoulder 10 to 30 percent of their medical expenses while the rest will be assumed under different insurance schemes, including the government’s state-run insurance system. The increase in fees was petitioned by the nation’s largest organization of medical practitioners, Japan Medical Association. However, most corporate health insurance associations objected because of the increased financial load on their part.
Health Ministry officials said that the Central Social Insurance Medical Council proposed the approved rates for the hike. An additional 120 yen for initial visits will increase the fee to 2,820 yen while an additional 30 yen for follow-up visits will increase it to 720 yen. Dental check-ups will be have an increase of 160 yen, which will make the first consultation 2,340 yen and an additional 30 yen for the follow-up resulting to a fee of 450 yen. Meanwhile, hospital room fees will be increased by around 2 percent.