According to the Ota Living Guide,which we received t from our local town hall – Ota City Office – when applying for my Alien Registration Certificate today: ‘Under the so-called “health insurance for all” system, everyone living in Japan is required to join a public medical insurance program’.
Yet when we tried to enroll me in the National Health Insurance system, we were told that I needed to have at least a year on my Visa to be eligible.
This would be fine if I had the three year visa that I had originally applied for but I was only granted a one year visa, which according to the guy at the Foreign Resident Registration desk is fast becoming standard practice for first time visa applicants.
Uh-oh… I think I just had my first brush with Japanese Bureacracy!
So with visions of Ikiru flickering through my mind, off we trudged from the city hall to investigate the possibility of private health insurance. Which Mio then found out wasn’t even available for standard medical procedures in Japan. It was beginning to look like I’m going to need to be very careful during my stay here!
Thankfully, after a little more investigation it seems that there is some hope. The very helpful guy at the Foreign Resident Registration desk seems to think that we were misinformed and that I should in fact be eligible. Tomorrow we return to try again. Fingers crossed we’ll have better luck this time…
On a lighter note, I also have to share this most excellent message from Tadayoshiri Matsubara – Mayor of Ota City – from page 1 of the Ota Living Guide:
Hello, Everyone! Welcome to Ota City!
Ota City is currently working on city planning with the goal of becoming a gentle, international city filled with dreams, attractive qualities and a sense of belonging, where foreign residents can feel glad they moved here.
The Otu Living Guide was created so that everyone who moves to Ota City can lead their lives cheerfully and with vitality. This guide contains information necessary for everyday life to make it more convenient. If ypu cannot find the information you need, please feel free to call or visit Ota City Office.
I hope your life in Ota City will be fruitful and fulfilling”
Amen to that Mr Matsubara! I will do my best to play a part in helping Ota City live up to this inspiring vision – but it would help if I could leave the house without the spectre of bank-breaking medical bills first!
UPDATE: I’m now signed up for National Health Insurance and can go back to crossing the road without looking both ways as normal. The woman on the counter today was as helpful as everybody else we met at City Hall, cheerfully processing our forms as she bad-mouthed the “mean” guy sitting behind her who had refused us last time. I salute you workers of Ota City!