194

The series of claims in the image below has been getting shared around Facebook and are posted from the "Illuminati Exposed" page.

The claims are in the image but I've listed them here

  • 100% of Japanese people have health coverage, regardless of their income.
  • They spend half what the USA does.
  • They get to choose their own doctors, and see them twice as often as we do.
  • They have the world's longest life expectancy, and the second lowest infant mortality rate in the world.
  • 95% of Japan's healthcare is non-profit.
  • The Japanese government caps fees for medical services and pharmaceuticals.

enter image description here

For many readers of Skeptics, Illuminati Exposed may not seem credible, but many of its readers consider it credible.

  • 2
    Does Japan have an equivalent of the AMA (American Medical Association) which restricts the supply of doctors? – Chloe Jan 7 at 0:49
  • 31
    I would say these points almost apply to Germany (and other European countries) as well (apart from the life expectancy which is in between US and Japan). Dont think of Japan as the outlier in the developed world; more likely it is the US. – lalala Jan 7 at 9:27
  • 2
    @lalala Same in France too (or not too far away). – aloisdg Jan 7 at 9:53
  • 4
    The life expectancy claim seem to be 'wrong' not in letter but in spirit though:forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2011/11/23/… life expectancy in the us is low because of car accdents and violent crime, not because of the healthcare system. – lalala Jan 7 at 10:15
  • 2
    "...but many of its readers consider it credible" presumably many readers of Ken Hamm's writings about Young Earth Creationism would consider it credible as well. That many readers of something find it credible is a very weak endorsement. – John Coleman Jan 7 at 17:39
262

The gist of it is true

Health Care System in Japan

"100% of Japanese people have their healthcare regardless of income"

This is partially true. All are mandated to have coverage, but that coverage is not 100%, and not all have the mandated coverage.

The health care system in Japan provides healthcare services, including screening examinations, prenatal care and infectious disease control, with the patient accepting responsibility for 30% of these costs while the government pays the remaining 70%.

All residents of Japan are required by the law to have health insurance coverage. People without insurance from employers can participate in a national health insurance programme, administered by local governments.

Uninsured patients are responsible for paying 100% of their medical fees, but fees are waived for low-income households receiving a government subsidy. Fees are also waived for homeless people brought to the hospital by ambulance.

"They spend half what the USA does"

True. The amounts in the figure are the sums of both out-of-pocket and government contributions to healthcare expenditures.

enter image description here

"They get to choose their own doctor"

True

Patients are free to select physicians or facilities of their choice and cannot be denied coverage.

"They [...] see them twice as often as we do"

It is more than that.

The Japanese visit a doctor nearly 14 times a year, more than four times as often as Americans.

"They have the worlds longest life expectancy"

True.

List of countries by life expectancy — which is based on WHO numbers — puts Japan at #1.

"They have [...] the second lowest infant mortality rate in the world"

According to the CIA World Factbook, true.

"95% of japans health care is non-profit"

This claim is contentious, since it relies on how you define "health care". According to the Wikipedia page...

Hospitals, by law, must be run as non-profit and be managed by physicians. For-profit corporations are not allowed to own or operate hospitals. Clinics must be owned and operated by physicians.

The contention here is if we should count "clinics" as path of "health care", what profit rules apply to "clinics", and whether the government mandated health insurance covers visits to "clinics".

"The Japanese government caps fees for medical services and pharmaceuticals"

True, according to the Wikipedia page:

Medical fees are strictly regulated by the government to keep them affordable. Depending on the family income and the age of the insured, patients are responsible for paying 10%, 20%, or 30% of medical fees, with the government paying the remaining fee.5

Also, monthly thresholds are set for each household, again depending on income and age, and medical fees exceeding the threshold are waived or reimbursed by the government.

  • 87
    I've deleted a ton of political chit-chat in the comments. Reminder: at skeptics you are not welcome to discuss your political ideology (in this case on whether universal healthcare is beneficial or not). There's plenty of other forums to do that, kindly keep this place peaceful. – Sklivvz Jan 5 at 10:56
  • 1
    "The contention here is ... what profit rules apply to 'clinics', and whether the government mandated health insurance covers visits to 'clinics'." -- I don't think these things are contentious. The term that's translated as "clinic" will be defined in Japanese law, and the questions of profit rules and insurance validity are matters of fact. (From experience I believe the government health insurance can be used in some clinics but not others - presumably it's possible to find statistics on this.) I agree that for some classes of clinic it may be contentious whether they count as health care. – Nathaniel Jan 7 at 9:14
  • 5
    @Nathaniel Any links that un-contend this will be appreciated. – MichaelK Jan 7 at 9:15
  • 1
    It would be interesting to see an apples-to-apples (as much as possible) comparison on healthcare costs, rather than an overall per capita expenditures figure as that can be skewed by differences in consumption choices. – kbolino Jan 7 at 22:48
  • 3
    @kbolino The problem is there are 325 million fruits in bag a, and 125 million fruits in bag b, and all of the fruits are slightly different. Finding which fruit to compare to which fruit is then a hard problem, and almost certainly your system of selecting fruit to compare will result in significantly different conclusions. What more, the fruit are changed by the bag (if you get crappy pre-natal care, you are going to cost more after birth, and possibly life-long) – Yakk Jan 8 at 15:02

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .