Facts about Japanese Clinics
If you feel sick, local clinics are the first place to visit. They provide patients with primary care.
Japanese clinics are divided into specialized departments, such as internal medicine or dermatology, and there is no General Practitioner system officially. Patients must decide which department to visit, according to which part of the body they have symptoms with.
Apart from specialist clinics, many clinics do not require appointments. They have walk-in, first- come-first-served system.
Most clinics are open on weekdays. Opening hours are usually from 9:00am to 6:00pm. Keep in mind that there is a lunch break for one or two hours between morning and afternoon consultations.
Many clinics are open on Saturday mornings, but closed in the afternoon. On Sundays and Public holidays, most clinics are closed all day.
It is strongly recommended to call or check their website to see if they are open before you go. In particular, small clinics or hospitals tend to have irregular hours/holidays.
Almost all clinics join Japanese Health Insurance and charge 30 per cent of total fee to patients.
To give you an idea of how much they charge, say you had a runny nose and saw a regular internal medicine doctor the first visit would be around 1,000-2,000 yen with Japanese Insurance. The second visit would be less than 1,000 yen. The first visit is more expensive because they charge the first visit fee. This fee doesn’t include the medication. You get medication from a prescription pharmacy.
Clinics that accept credit cards are very limited. Prepare some cash.
If you have a private health insurance or a travel insurance, it is wise to contact the insurer customer center first and ask them what you need to take to hospital/clinic. Often you need to make a full payment at the clinic and get reimbursement from your insurer later. To do so, insurers require a medical certificate.
4 things you should do before visiting Japanese clinics
- Check the opening day and time of the clinic you want to visit via phone. Even if many clinics have a public email address, they do not reply promptly by email.
- Check if the clinic you want to visit require patients to make an appointment beforehand. Many clinics, apart from dental and ob/gyn clinics, appointments are not required. On the other hand, some hospitals do require appointments arranged beforehand.
- Prepare a Health Insurance Card and a clinic card if you have one. If you forget to bring your Health Insurance Card, often you need to pay the full amount of cost of care at the cashier. It can be expensive, so make sure to bring the card with you.
- Prepare some cash. Not many clinics accept credit cards in Japan. If you are not sure how much to bring, you can call the clinic you wish to visit and ask how much you may need. If you are visiting a big hospital, usually an ATM is located in the hospital.
★Health Insurance Card (保険証 ほけんしょう hokensyo) It certifies that you are covered by health insurance. You can use the card at most clinics or hospitals in Japan.
★Clinic Card (診察券 しんさつけん shinsatsuken) This is the card issued by individual clinics. Can only be used in the hospital/clinic it was issued.