Japanese Medical Care (September Blog)

I have often found myself comparing health care in Japan to that in Canada. In both countries we are lucky to have national health care. Health care costs in Canada are much lower than those in Japan, and they cover 100% of medical costs rather than the 70% coverage in Japan, but do not include medication or dental care. In recent years, talking to my family and friends, it seems that getting what seems like routine testing, like an MRI, CT scan, having surgery or making an appointment with a specialist can take months in Canada. We are very lucky in Japan that there is an abundance of medical equipment and we can get tests or appointments with a specialist very quickly.

Another difference is the amount of time spent in the hospital. When I gave birth to my daughter in Tokyo, the average stay was 7 days. By comparison, my second daughter was born in Canada and I was released less than 24 hours after giving birth. Recently, I had knee replacement surgery. I looked online to learn all about the surgery and learned that the average stay in Canada is 2 or 3 days. My doctor in Japan told me that the minimal stay is 2 weeks after surgery and average is 4 weeks. I was questioning the necessity of such a long hospital stay, but after surgery, I couldn’t even imagine having to go home after 3 days. I received excellent care from the nurses, doctors and physical therapists. As an added bonus, the food was also very good! I was ready to go home 2 weeks after my surgery as I was able to walk with a cane, get up and down the stairs and be reasonably self sufficient rather than being sent home to fend for myself after only a couple of days.

I am very thankful to live in this country where we can enjoy excellent medical care.