OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers

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This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected labour market and social policy studies prepared for use within the OECD. Authorship is usually collective, but principal writers are named. The papers are generally available only in their original language - English or French - with a summary in the other.

An Assessment of the Performance of the Japanese Health Care System You or your institution have access to this content

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Hyoung-Sun Jeong, Jeremy Hurst
06 Dec 2001
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There is much interest in the Japanese health care system from the perspective of other OECD countries. The Japanese health care system appears to perform well. What explains this apparently good performance? This paper aims both to provide a description of how the Japanese health system works and an assessment of its performance in the context of an international comparison.

The Japanese health care system is characterised by public health insurance with mainly private providers. Japan has universal public health insurance with coverage of a comprehensive range of services and only modest cost sharing by patients. It has mainly private providers paid mainly by fee-for-service. The share of its population that is elderly is above the OECD average. Such a combination would usually be associated with high levels of health expenditure. Yet less is spent on health care in Japan than would be expected for an OECD country with its standard of living. Cost containment seems to have been ...