The hospital admission process in Japan is straightforward. You will be required to have your alien registration card and your insurance details, including your Japanese National Health Insurance card if you have one, for admittance. Once you’ve selected a hospital to go to (see the previous section for a list of hospitals that have some English speaking staff), visit the admissions desk near the hospital’s entrance. It’s helpful to have a referral and an appointment with a physician in the department you wish to see, although this is not always required. At the admissions desk you will be asked to fill out an admissions form (in many cases this will be in Japanese but the hospital staff can assist with this process), before being given a hospital card that is used to connect you to your records. You will then receive an explanation on how to locate your intended physician within the hospital. On subsequent visits you will still need to visit the admissions desk to “check-in” before proceeding to your doctor’s office.
Some hospitals do not provide emergency care, and those that do can turn you away if they are too busy – this is true whether you walk in or are brought in by an ambulance. In fact, it is not unheard of for an ambulance to call several hospitals before finding one that will accept you. With this in mind, it’s not a terrible idea to call hospital emergency rooms in advance of your visit to ensure they are open, but in the event of a medical emergency it would be prudent to instead call for an ambulance as they can more efficiently identify which hospitals are accepting patients. When arriving at the emergency room, have your alien registration card and your National Health Insurance card. If you arrive without any documentation, however, the hospital staff should be able to look your insurance information up as treatment is being provided. Should you have no insurance, the hospital should continue to treat you, and payment can be made in cash or with a credit card after treatment is complete. Some hospitals will have some limited-English speaking staff, but you should still be prepared for challenges conversing with the administrative staff and your physician(s).