Cash back for giving birth in Japan

Last month, I wrote a blog post about the cost of giving birth in Japan – which for us, was just over JPY1m or GBP7,175.

An eye-watering credit card bill following a traumatic birth experience had left me a bit dazed and confused. Wasn’t this supposed to be the happiest time of our lives?!

Well, just as our baby reached her four month birthday – after a significant amount of homework and form-filling – we were finally reimbursed for a large chunk of the delivery fees.

Here’s a simple overview of the sums . . .

November 2016

Birth / delivery fees = JPY865,000

  • JPY420,000 covered by Minato City’s’National Health Insurance’ upon being discharged from hospital
    (“Childbirth and childcare lump-sum grant”)
  • JPY465,000 charged on my credit card to Nisseki Hospital

March 2017

Reimbursements = JPY343,000*

  • JPY175,000 from Minato City, via the Foreign Transportation & Finance Health Insurance Association
    (“Childbirth and childcare additional benefit”)
  • JPY168,000 from the Foreign Transportation & Finance Health Insurance Association
    (“Reimbursement system for high-cost medical care”)

So the mammoth JPY865,000 delivery bill minus refunds, now looks more like JPY122,000.

*The reimbursements were paid to my employer, who then transferred the cash to me.

Tax-deductible medical expenses

Since the expenses related to having our baby still exceed JPY100,000 (JPY334,884 to be exact, including delivery fees, pre- and post-natal appointment costs, and optional care), we’re able to file for an additional reimbursement from the tax office, under the heading of “excessive medical expenditures”. This is currently in progress.

All in all, not quite as bad as we’d thought at first . . .

The lesson

Giving birth in Japan will cost you on average JPY450,000 (GBP3,229). Even when reimbursements are guaranteed, you can expect cash-flow issues for a few months.

Securing reimbursements involves a lot of cumbersome paperwork and cross-checks for you and your company. It seems impossible to apply for reimbursements as an individual (particularly if you are unable to read and / or write Japanese).

Be sure to speak in detail with your HR team regarding the refunds you are entitled to before taking maternity leave, to ensure a speedier reimbursement process. You have up to two years to claim cash back.

Is this similar to your birth story in Japan? I’d love to compare notes . . .