“The ward office contacted me about health insurance!”

I keep getting these kind of hits, links, and e-mails more and more this summer, regarding Japanese health insurance.

I know I said it somewhere, and excuse me, I’m just to[o] lazy to go back and search it. But the point was, I didn’t think that the Japanese administrators would wait one fine day and announce that they were cracking down on people and companies who weren’t registered for the insurance. In fact, I thought it would be on a one-shot-after-another basis.

It’s very rare for an enforcement effort in anything to begin with one big announcement. It’s usually as simple as someone sends you a notice, gives you a phone call, or shows up at your residence.

I see this search term a few weeks ago: “Do I really have to pay Japanese health insurance?” Come on, where have you been? It’s been all over the internet for a year. If you have been reading the expat blogosphere and somehow you concluded that, after some big ruckus, the Japanese changed their mind and decided that you didn’t—it’s your own fault. I wouldn’t even blame the guy involved with the private insurance down in Hyogo-ken for that one.

I like e-mails. But when I get one asking me how you think you can get around paying the Japanese health insurance, I have to wonder: did you read my blog? I am one of the guys saying you have to be in it. Or at least, enroll. As early as possible and as soon as possible.

I don’t really give out the free legal advice or anything like that. I am not 100% in favor of everything that goes on in Japan, but then again, I am not 100% in favor of everything that goes on back home in America, either.

This is writing-on-the-wall stuff. Kuuki yomu.

11 thoughts on ““The ward office contacted me about health insurance!”

  1. I am not enrolled.
    I am still on my company’s U.S. payroll, and I am paying an arm and a leg for Aetna Global. I am waiting for them to come after me, so I can write about it.

  2. Lisa,

    So you are saying that you are on the U.S. payroll for both health insurance and social security? That is to say, they are deducting the 7.65% social security tax from you?

    It seems strange, because usually that is supposed only to be the case with people who are seconded from America to work in Japan. I have a feeling that many American subsidiaries’ HR and payroll departments don’t know what the Real Rule is. According to the totalization treaty, if you are hired in Japan, you are supposed to be in the nenkin and in a valid Japanese health insurance.

  3. My situation is……weird. I was hired by Dow Jones more than 10 years ago, in Japan, but entirely on the U.S. payroll, with U.S. benefits . Then I quit and moved to my present Web site in Tokyo, when it was an independent company….not registered in Japan. They were damn lucky I had a spouse’s visa, because they couldn’t have sponsored me. Again, I was 100% U.S.-based. Then DJ bought the Web site, then I moved to San Francisco for a few years when my husband was transferred there — and was rehired by my present employer, now owned by DJ (and then in turn bought by Murdoch). So when I moved back to Tokyo, I was definitely seconded from a U.S. company — but twice before, I have been hired for local jobs but on U.S. payrolls.

    I have been told (by people who are hopefully misinformed) that even though I am paying a small fortune in payroll deductions for my U.S. health insurance, I am still required to pay into the Japanese system — which I am not doing, until the day (which I imagine will come, sooner or later) when I am asked to switch to the local payroll. Then I would have to do it, of course, just to have some sort of health insurance.

  4. I wouldn’t worry about it esp. if you only plan on staying in Japan for a few years. If you want to join that’s fine but understand it’s very hard to opt out once you’ve gotten in.

    Now I don’t want to argue about the title of this thread I’ve read but I’ve read little about this (not joining) as being a problem on well-know sites such as Gaijinpot or heard stories at work. Which isn’t to say some people don’t’ get flagged but imo, it’s better to wait and see. If the local government does begin to crack down there are still ways to get into the system without having to pay back premiums.

    Now if you want to debate the moral issue of “cheating” so be it. But given how the J-movement often allows langauge schools and companies to skirt their responsibilities I opt to save 60,000 -70,000 yen a month by not paying into either the health or national pension plan.

    1. Ken, I am not saying that this is widespread.

      Since I blog regularly about the topic, I usually have a high search engine spot when people type in questions like that. So I keep track. It may be unscientific, but it’s what I have.

      Also, from time to time I get an e-mail. Nowadays, I don’t respond to specific e-mail through a post.

  5. > I opt to save 60,000 -70,000 yen a month by not paying into either the health or national pension plan.

    Those numbers seem a tad high for someone on a language school salary.

  6. —Those numbers seem a tad high for someone on a language school salary.—

    I don’t work as a language school teacher but I’m fairly certain I fall into the top category for the heath care rates as well as the 14,000 for the national pension. (Maybe 70,000 total is a bit too high but I’m sure it’s over 50,000)

    25,000-30,000 is about right for a language school teacher which I’m sure many will avoid paying if they can.

    1. But the game now is that the people who only plan to be in Japan for a year or two may get hit for back payments if they change their mind. That wasn’t the case even a few years ago. But now, with the change of government and the focus on the issue, it’s more likely there going to be hit.

      1. And anyone only planning on being here up to 3 years or so can apply to have their nenkin payments into the system refunded to them (capped) once they pick up and leave anyway so they don’t lose anything by paying into the system in the first place if they are short terming it.

        And Health insurance is just that, insurance. A safety net for when you really need it. Company health insurance is much better to have but the regular kokumin kenkou hoken is better than nothing and trying to bet against not getting sick or getting involved in an accident.

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