When I quit working for one of the big English teaching companies, I had to get insurance from somewhere.Â My wife suggested I use the national health system that Japanese people use.Â I thought that would be a good idea, but I looked into it and it wasn’t so great after all.Â It was very expensive and didn’t offer full coverage.
One problem with National Health is that, when you sign up for it, you have to pay a big chunk to get started.Â You have to pay for all the months you were in the country and covered by someone else.Â For me, that would have meant paying three years of insurance all at once!
That didn’t sound like such a good plan to me.Â Actually, if I had decided to go with National Health, that would have been a serious financial hardship.Â I probably couldn’t have done it if I wanted to.
The regular rate is about 13,000 yen a month (something like $100 USD), which is a pretty good chunk of change.Â With the company I had worked for, I payed only $40 a month.
The other thing is that the coverage wasn’t as good as the company I had been with.Â They payed for all doctor’s visits and medications, and reimbursed me in my US bank account.Â But, with national health, they pay a percentage, depending on what it’s for.
I asked some of the other part-time teachers at the place where I was working.Â One of them used to work in the insurance industry back home, so I picked his brain for advice.
He suggested using an overseas company.Â If you get on the web and search for “insurance japan” or something like that, you’ll find all kinds of companies that insure foreigners in Japan.
The company I chose actually has better coverage than National Health, and the rates are lower.Â The only catch is that you have to have a US bank account.Â When you’re shopping around, be sure to see how the payment and reimbursement system works.
That’s the only drawback.Â Getting reimbursed is a little bit of a hassle.Â It takes six weeks or something like that to get my money.Â But, they offer full coverage, and that is pretty standard among overseas insurance companies.
It also helps that my doctors bills haven’t been so high in Japan.Â Back in the States you pay an arm and a leg to just TALK to a doctor.Â Over here, when I’ve gone to see a doctor for a cold or flu, I ended up paying less than $100 for the visit and all the medications.
National Health may be a good plan if you plan to stay in Japan the rest of your life.Â They offer good maternity benefits, so depending on your future plans, it might be good for you.Â But, I personally recommend using an overseas insurance company.Â They’ve treated me well.