Foreign tourists needing medical care increasing
A survey by Okinawa Medical Association found that the number of foreign tourists needing care and accepted at emergency hospitals has doubled since 2013. The number has increased for two consecutive years.
A problem for emergency hospitals treating foreign tourists is who’s paying the cost. There have been 21 cases in 5 facilities that medical expenses have not been paid as of the end of March, totaling ¥8,27 million. Okinawa Medical Association says, “It’s difficult for each individual hospital to solve this problem. We would greatly appreciate if the Okinawa Prefectural Government would take public measurements to rectify this.”
According to the Association, this was the first survey regarding foreign tourist patients in Japan. The number of foreign tourist patients has been increasing nationally, however big cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka have many foreign residents, and a system of accepting them is in place.
351 foreign tourist patients were accepted in Okinawan emergency hospitals in 2013. The number grew to 674 in 2014 (1.5 times more than the previous year), and to 1,492 in 2015, a 2.2-time increase. It’s expected that the number would increase further in the future. Most of the foreign tourist patients are from Asian countries, such as Taiwan and Hong Kong.