Expats living in Kobe can access good quality healthcare through employee health insurance and the national insurance scheme. With the current coronavirus pandemic affecting many areas of the world, including Japan, it’s never been more essential to find out what local facilities are available. Here is an overview of what you can find in Kobe and how to access it.
Japan has a universal public healthcare system that is of a high standard. All Japanese residents and expats with a residence card who are staying in the country for longer than three months are required to have health insurance to access healthcare. Employees in Japan are generally covered under their company’s social health insurance scheme (SHI). Other residents can join the national insurance scheme (NHI). Both of these schemes cover 70% of Japanese healthcare costs. Short-term visitors and tourists need to take out private health insurance, which is more expensive and usually means having to pay costs upfront and then get reimbursed.
Around 90% of services are covered by public healthcare in Japan. There are some exclusions, such as some mental health, maternity, and sexual health treatments. If you’re covered by SHI, your employer will usually enroll you. For NHI, you will need to contact the Kobe City healthcare department. Although expats living in Kobe are eligible for SHI or NHI, many take out private insurance policies to access a wider range of English-speaking services.
Japan doesn’t have a system of general practitioners (GP). Instead, you will find specialists working in clinics and hospitals. Walk-in appointments are available at most places, although waiting times can vary. Kobe has a number of English-speaking doctors (ishi) and specialists (senmon-i) working at facilities across the city. Expect to pay in the region of 5,000 – 10,000 yen for a consultation (more for some specialists).
Hospital visits are covered by Japanese health insurance. They provide emergency and specialist treatment. If you have a medical emergency in Kobe, you should either visit an emergency clinic or hospital in the city or call 119 for an ambulance.
Hospitals in Kobe include:
Dentists (shikai) in Japan are often classified under specialists and work out of hospitals and clinics as well as dental centers. Costs are normally around the same as for doctors and other specialists.
English-speaking dentists in Kobe can be found at:
Pharmacies (chouzaiyakkyoku) can be found in all cities and towns and sell both prescription and over-the-counter medication. If you are given a prescription, it will usually be provided with instructions on when and how to take. Costs are covered by insurance so you’ll only pay 30%.
The Pharmacies Worldwide website has information on pharmacies in Kobe.
The standard of women’s healthcare in Japan is good and there are many clinics, birthing centers and women’s health specialists in all major cities, including Kobe. Health insurance covers some maternity costs but not prenatal or antenatal care. Instead, expectant mothers are given “maternity vouchers” for discounted check-ups and expenses.
Women’s clinics with English-speaking services in Kobe include:
Kobe City offers free and anonymous testing for a range of sexually transmitted infections every week at the Kobe Public Health Center.
The Kobe City Mental Health Welfare Center provides a range of public mental health services covered through insurance schemes. You can also find English-speaking counsellors and psychotherapists. Bear in mind that most of these are private and might not be covered through SHI or NHI. Be sure to check first. You can find a therapist that works in the Kobe area through the International Mental Health Professionals Japan (IMHPJ) website.
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