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National Health Insurance

National Health Insurance, commonly known as “Kokuho(国保)” in Japan, is a medical insurance system that reduces the insured person’s medical expenses. Every international student who will live in Japan for more than three months is obliged to enroll in the National Health Insurance system.

1. Application

Applications for entry into the National Health Insurance system are accepted at the local municipal, ward or other office where your place of residence is registered (* See list of public offices). When applying for insurance, the applicant’s passport and Residence Card are required. After completing the application, you will obtain a National Health Insurance Certificate on the same day.

2. Monthly Premium

On joining the National Health Insurance System, you must pay a monthly premium. There is a premium reduction program that may allow you to receive a discount. If you report that you have not had any income in Japan during the previous fiscal year, you can receive a 70% reduction from the normal monthly premium. For details, consult the National Health Insurance System representatives at your local ward office. Furthermore, you may apply for reimbursement when a single month’s treatment costs have exceeded the individual payment limit set by the Insurance system. Notification will be issued from your ward office roughly 3 months after the month in which these costs were incurred. You can take this notification, along with receipts regarding the treatment, to your ward office and apply for reimbursement. For this reason, it is advised that all medical receipts should be kept rather than thrown away.

3. Withdrawal

When leaving Japan indefinitely, or getting employed in the country, you must visit your ward office to withdraw from the National Health Insurance System. If you don’t report your withdrawal, it is considered a default with regard to the payment of all future monthly payments.

National Health Insurance applications and withdrawals are processed at the Citizens' Affairs Department of your ward office or its branch office.
Please be advised on receiving National Health Insurance System benefits in the following situations:

Maximum Payable Amount Certificate (限度額適用認定証)

If you are hospitalized or have to undergo an expensive medical procedure, you can present a Maximum Payable Amount Certificate (限度額適用認定証) at your medical institution to limit the amount you must pay in medical fees per month. If you think you will have high medical costs, take your health insurance certificate and Social Security and Tax Number nortification card to your ward office's Health Insurance and Pension Division to apply for the Maximum Payable Amount Certificate.

Reference Sendai City Website (Japanese)

Overseas Medical Expenses

When you receive medical treatment while staying in countries other than Japan on temporary leave, you can apply for reimbursement of medical expenses after returning to Japan by preparing the following documentation.

Necessary documentation
  • Certificate of medical examination and treatment by a doctor
  • Medical receipt (original)
  • Japanese Translation of the above two documents (anyone may do the translation, but the translator’s signature or seal is required)
  • National Health Insurance Certificate
  • Passport

Be advised that National Health Insurance covers only the portion of medical expenses to which the Japanese health insurance plan can be applied. The application for reimbursement will be examined and paid in accord with Japanese costs for the same medical treatment.

Childbirth Care Allowance

If you are a woman birthing a child in your own country or elsewhere while you are covered under Japan’s National Health Insurance System, you can receive Childbirth Care Allowance. In order to apply for this benefit, return within the period stated on your re-entry permit, with the following documentation.

Necessary documentation
  • Child’s Birth Certificate
  • Japanese translation of Child’s Birth Certificate
  • Passport

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