Healthcare

Government Plans to Include Childbirth Coverage in Public Health Insurance

Main image to the post Government Plans to Include Childbirth Coverage in Public Health Insurance

The Japanese government is preparing for comprehensive discussions on the possibility of expanding public health insurance coverage to include childbirth expenses by fiscal year 2026. This move is part of a strategy adopted at a Cabinet meeting in late 2023 to address Japan's demographic concerns, focusing on measures like covering childbirth costs with public medical insurance. Currently, public health insurance does not typically cover childbirth costs, except for specific cases like cesarean sections.

To facilitate these discussions, the health ministry and the Children and Families Agency are planning to assemble a panel of experts starting as early as June. The average cost of childbirth across Japan was approximately ¥482,000 in fiscal year 2022, with regional variations such as ¥360,000 in Kumamoto and around ¥600,000 in Tokyo. In April 2023, Japan increased its lump-sum childbirth allowance from ¥420,000 to ¥500,000, yet this amount may not suffice to cover all expenses, especially in metropolitan areas where costs are higher.

If childbirth becomes part of public medical insurance, women giving birth would be responsible for footing 30% of the expenses. The government is also exploring ways to create a system where out-of-pocket payments for childbirth up to ¥500,000 can be effectively reduced to zero. However, concerns exist regarding the proposed uniform pricing for delivery support and related services, as it may lead to potential risks for medical institutions in urban areas if the prices are set too low.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09