NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Lessons From Japan's Health Care System

October 17, 2003

Japan spends less than Canada does on health care, yet has no waiting lists, better access to high-tech medicine, and manages better health outcomes, according to the Fraser Institute's Nadeem Esmail and Sabrina Yeudall.

The reason is that the Japanese health care system is less governmental and has competitive features lacking in Canada and other countries with national health systems. For example:

  • Japan has nearly 5,000 insurers, most of whom are nongovernmental.
  • Cost sharing exits at all levels of care; physicians, specialists and hospitals all require copayments of between 20 and 30 percent.
  • Insurance from central and local governments is limited to the very poor -- those who would otherwise have difficulty affording copayments.

In 1999 Japan spent less on health care than all but one of the developed countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Source: Nadeem Esmail and Sabrina Yeudall, "Lessons from Japan's Health Care System," Fraser Forum, July 2003, Fraser Institute.


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