Japanese Healthcare System

I decided to focus on the Japanese healthcare system as was in he frontline film that we watch. I selected this because I thought Japan is a country that I would be interested in visiting at some point in my life therefore how one would receive care is an important thing to know. This film followed a journalist as he travel to and from five different countries to examine how the health care system there worked. he went to the UK, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, and Switzerland. During his investigation the journalist gathers information about the system from doctors, patients, and even health care policy administrators. By Doing this the audience was able to get a good understanding of the healthcare, how it affected the people and how they felt about the way that the program was set up.

With in this film I found that the healers where the Japanese doctors. Their social status is reasonable though it is difficult to become rich because of the regulated price list. The interactions between patients and doctors were very different than than in America. The average appointment last roughly 3 minutes so the patient has to be very to the point about what it is that is a concern of theirs. Another interesting thing about the primary care visits is that you never have to call ahead to make an appointment, the patient can come as often as they want, and primary visits are not might to keep them from seeing a specialist. Overall the patients are very comfortable with their doctors but the visits are very focused and quick not allowing for a deep connection to form between doctor and patient.

In Japan they have what they call social health care insurance which are these insurance policies that everyone has to buy into. This policy is obtained through an individual’s job, a community based program, or if the individual is too poor the government pays for their policy. Almost every doctor’s office is a private business. The patients enjoy going to the doctor so much that they visit the doctor about 3 times more than the average American. The Japanese also get medical scan done at a larger rate. In Japan the government makes a detail list of how much each medical procedure/item will cost. If doctors try to complete more of a certain task for additional income the next year the price of the task will go down. This price list is negotiated yearly.

8 thoughts on “Japanese Healthcare System

  1. I was extremely interested to read about Japan’s healthcare system. I think it is very interesting to see how other countries in the world work differently than ours. The first statement that caught my eye in your reflection was the average patient-doctor interaction time was only three minutes long! I think that kind of a system has its benefits and drawbacks. I agree that it is a lot more effective, because it allows faster turn over time, and more patients can be seen daily. I also think the fact they don’t need to make an appointment is a lot more effective than our system. Because the average appointment only lasts three minutes, there could be a lack of comfort in the relationship between the doctor and patient. I would see this as a drawback. I believe a government paid insurance policy is extremely important, and something United States should develop eventually. One major difference I saw was the patients in Japan enjoy going to the doctor more than here in the U.S. I think that’s a huge deal because there is such a negative stigma about doctor appointments in the U.S. Overall, from what I’ve read, it sounds like Japanese doctors are both credible and effective.

  2. I would consider the doctors they showed in this documentary to be biomedical doctors, similar to the US. The clips they showed in the article seemed to reflect the professional sector. They had appointments, quick check ups that didn’t focus on the self but the biological problem or regulation. Their healthcare is different like you said because they have a social health care insurance. Everyone here has to buy the health insurance and the government pays for the poor. Also like you said they can join the community based program or through their job. They visit more often but for smaller things. Doctors don’t pan out very well in this deal but it is a lot cheaper than the U.S and as the reporter liked to repeat, no one goes bankrupt from medical bills. These healers seem credible because they do reflect the professional sector. They have high authority because this system is based on logic and reason. It does seem effective but still has issues to address. Some issues being that hospitals are not staying profitable and therefor not sustainable, also there is no focus on the self but only the biological problem/regulation, which could improve the healing experience and possibly clinical outcomes.

  3. Your summary of the article about Japanese doctors is quite interesting because while they appear similar to doctors in the United States, by way of education and qualifications, the system actually seems rather different. The first difference I noticed was the social status, in the United States, most doctors enjoy an elevated social and economic status especially surgeons and those with difficult specialties whereas it seems this is not necessarily the case in Japan. It was interesting that you said it is difficult to become a rich doctor in Japan, since in the United States one can easily live an affluent life on the average doctor’s salary. However, I suppose this difference really depends upon what defines the word “rich” according to how you have used it. This difference could be due to the different ways in which the healthcare systems are organized as well, as the USA is more private and Japanese health care seems to be more socialized. I also thought it was very interesting that the average appointment lasts only three minutes, because as all American citizens know, our average doctor visits can last anywhere from thirty minutes to a couple hours. However, this also depends on if you mean strict doctor-patient time or if waiting time is a factor. Three minutes is still shorter than the average doctor-patient face-time in the United States which may partially explain why the Japanese are more likely to visit the doctor more often than Americans. In the U.S.A. doctor visits are usually seen as a hassle and not an enjoyable experience, unlike the picture you’ve painted of doctor visits in Japan. Lastly, it also seems that healthcare is more socialized in Japan which is quite different from the U.S.A. I believe that far fewer people visit doctors in the United States because of the costs and lack of health insurance. I think that the system in Japan seems just as legitimate and effective, if not more, than our system in the United States because it seems that there are fewer obstacles preventing citizens from seeking doctor visits, such as monetary and time constraints. It seems as that the U.S. could take a few pointers on Japan’s efficiency.

  4. I find this article the Japanese Healthcare system quite interesting and very different from the United States healthcare system. In the United States, Doctor visits can last as long as two to three hours depending on how crowded it is in the office. I think the U.S. does it this way so that the doctor and the patient can have a complete understanding of the patient’s condition as well as other factors such as family medical history and religious beliefs so that the doctors can have those in consideration for the treatment process.

    However, the Japanese doctors appointments last only three minutes per person making it, in my opinion, less efficient because what if all of the factors of the patient are not covered (religion, family medical history, etc.)? Although, I like the fact that Japanese doctors can see a patient at any given time as well. In the U.S. sometimes you might have to wait a few days or even a few weeks to see a doctor. It is a good idea that a patient can come in at any time in Japan. I think this is what makes Japanese doctors legitimate. They may not be able to stay for a long period of time for their doctor visit, but they can make multiple visits and still cover the same amount of information as they would in the United States. I also like the fact that patients are forced to know exactly what the problem is with their health so they can get straight to the point at the doctor visit. This makes more people able to be seen by the doctor.

  5. The idea of universal health care is a topic of great debate in the U.S. particularly with the presidential elections coming up. Japan has already instilled universal health care policies for their citizens. Social health care is a good way to gauge how much health care one needs, targeting specific individual needs. However, it can be seen that due to the nature of more regular visits, that the medical supplies could reach certain lows than with appointed visits.

    It might become difficult to be a Japanese doctor in that there is not much incentive to give patients a specific and detailed treatment process due to the pricing list. However, it is the ease of walking into a doctor’s office without an appointment that makes a patient feel more wanted than setting up an appointment. Similarly, people in Japan and the U.S. can have a primary physician that will understand their health and illness history. This definitely provides a comfortability for both the patient and the doctor. Now the question is, does a three minute consultation provide for less quality? That would definitely depend on the illness. If I was pregnant and wanted to see the doctor, I would definitely want some more one-on-one time, but if I had a cold/flu of some sorts then the three minutes might be ample enough. So is it a coincidence that Japan has one of the highest life expectancies in the world? That can be a topic of another discussion, however it seems the system works well to the benefit of the people, patients, and doctors.

  6. I am responding to Danuelle’s reflection on healthcare in Japan. Her view is that the Japanese physician’s are the healers. That is not a separation of Shaman and physician, like we learned about in Mercy Medical Center in Merced, California. Medicine is treated a little bit different in Japan and people are able to see physicians for brief 3 minute sessions. They can however go to see their physicians as many times as they would like. It does force them to focus on their immediate problem but I think that may be difficult for some patients especially elderly ones or people who do not exactly know what their problem is. In that respect it is different than here. A patient here can be talking with their physician for an hour or two and it is not a problem as long as they have the time. They do not need referrals in Japan though.

    A difference is that in Japan they practice socialized medicine and the Japanese spend a great deal of time with detailing the price and frequency of certain procedures and if they are done too often the price of them the next year is lower. Socialized medicine is practiced in Japan and other countries such as Canada with great success. It has some merit because serious conditions will have been caught in time due to routine screenings. The down side is having to wait a long time for needed procedures. Everyone has to pay into this system, which has controversial in the United States. It does however insure that everyone is able to get needed treatment. This is a basic human necessity in this day and age to get treatment and disease prevention for those that cannot afford it.

  7. I found this video very interesting to watch, as well as I enjoyed your written response towards it. Firstly, I found it quite interesting that doctors visits in Japan, while they are frequent, are very short, usually a maximum of about five minutes, which is unheard of in America. I found it so interesting as well that all doctors make house calls in Japan still, if you are unable to come into the physician’s office, which is something that you never see around here. Japan has a very cheap system, in which the government, for how much something should cost, has figured everything out. This makes this system, one that is purely based off of treatment for the patient, and no profit for the doctor. This is different from American doctors because most individuals become doctors in order to become rich; this is a very difficult thing to achieve in Japan, and when people go into medicine, it’s mainly because they want to be able to help people’s ailments. I would say that their health care system seems just as legitimate as America’s system of health care. The downside is that every procedure does take time in order to be seen and have things taken care of and everyone must pay into the system, but everyone is able to receive treatment.

  8. I enjoy frontline, and I did enjoy watching this episode. One thing I found about the Japanese model is it is economically unsustainable. First and foremost was the national standard of pricing. All medical services provided cost the same with no variation between locations. So an overnight hospital stay in Tokyo with a metro population of thirteen million) was ten dollars a night; this was the same price as an overnight stay at a hospital in rural japan were the cost of living and doing business would be much less. The episode of frontline also made it look like the Japanese health system was subject to much unnecessary use that was verging on “abusing” the system.
    This (the low prices) are very very popular in japan, so any government reform is political suicide. However from an economic standpoint their health system looks like a ticking time bomb.

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