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greyjoy
April 15th, 2014, 20:20
So I have health insurance here in the states, but it's not the most amazing coverage. My Dental insurance in especially mediocre. It's been about three years since my last dentist appointment and optometrist. I don't have an immediate need to go to either, but I wonder if it wouldn't be less of a hassle to do it now rather than later. Should I bother making an appointment now, or just wait and have the luxury of utilizing a real national health care system?

Antonath
April 15th, 2014, 20:42
Dentists
Pro: national health care. Your first visit is more expensive due to a registration fee, but after that you may be talking less than $2 for a short visit.
Pro: dentists here often (but not always) speak good English.
Pro (and maybe con depending on placement): dentists are usually either "drink this whiskey while I yank yer tooth" or "we just got the latest equipment yesterday".
Con: dentists tend to keep relatively short surgery hours.
Con: they like to do things in multiple trips. Two or more for a simple cleaning is common.
Con: while many speak English, they're better at technical terms than layman-conversation.

Optometrist
I got some new glasses a few years back. They're not covered on the health service, but they tend to be fairly cheap and quick. You don't even really need Japanese, as they can use a scanner on your current glasses, and the eye test consists of "where is the gap in the circle, up/down/left/right", rather than character recognition.

coop52
April 15th, 2014, 21:16
Con: while many speak English, they're better at technical terms than layman-conversation.



This is a common thing with all kinds of medical professionals. Every doctor I've ever been to here has a big English medical dictionary and spends most of the visit consulting it to tell you what's wrong with you.

Shincantsen
April 16th, 2014, 00:11
So I have health insurance here in the states, but it's not the most amazing coverage. My Dental insurance in especially mediocre. It's been about three years since my last dentist appointment and optometrist. I don't have an immediate need to go to either, but I wonder if it wouldn't be less of a hassle to do it now rather than later. Should I bother making an appointment now, or just wait and have the luxury of utilizing a real national health care system?

As others have said, doctors, dentists, and optometrists are pretty easy in Japan. If it's going to cost you a lot to go while you're in the US, I'd say wait until you get to Japan. Once you get there, your predecessor/PA/local forum should be able to tell you where the good doctors are.

Jiggit
April 16th, 2014, 08:36
I don't know about others but every time I've been to the hospital It's been a general hospital and you have to go through registration plus filling out a big form about all your previous conditions (that is entirely in Japanese and obviously technical terminology) so I would have been screwed if I didn't take my supervisor and he had a lot of trouble translating it.

Maybe the smaller clinics are easier to navigate but I also don't know what they're for; I don't go to the doctor unless I need to (to get a note to take sick leave) and clinics apparently can't do jack sh1t for any actual condition. I guess they're just there for Japanese hypochondriacs, since everyone apparently goes to the doctor as soon as they get a minor headache here...

zombiekelly
April 16th, 2014, 08:51
When I went to the dentist, I took a long train ride into Matsudo for a trilingual clinic (JP/EN/CH) rather than mess with the ones in my area. They did everything in one visit, though there was an option for a two visit procedure. It seems like the ones with younger dentists are willing to cut down on appointments.

Page
April 16th, 2014, 11:06
If you wanna save money: wait. If you want to save time: do it now. Like everyone said even simple procedures will end up usually being at least two visits. Also they don't have the best hours so depending on how local you go you may end up needing to take time off to get to where you're going.

I've gotten a fair bit of work done in Japan and aside from having to go a bajillion times I've felt comfortable and have been especially thankful for the non-insane pricing ($200 procedure for $20, why yes thank you).

Doctors are OK but I've also found that where I am they aren't quick to assume the worst. We've had multiple ALTs get serious illnesses and it wasn't until they were taken a 2nd (or 3rd) time to the hospital that they were properly diagnosed, they're pretty quick to dismiss anything as a cold or the flu or something. Also don't plan on getting sick after hours or you'll have to go to emergency and only have a 50/50 chance of getting meds (and also have to go back the next day to get your change as most [inaka?] hospitals don't keep their money drawers open past closing). Every city has hospitals on rotation to be open on holidays/Sundays so you aren't SOL, it's just a pain in the ass (but a lot cheaper at least).

Gizmotech
April 16th, 2014, 13:05
Doctors are OK but I've also found that where I am they aren't quick to assume the worst. We've had multiple ALTs get serious illnesses and it wasn't until they were taken a 2nd (or 3rd) time to the hospital that they were properly diagnosed, they're pretty quick to dismiss anything as a cold or the flu or something. Also don't plan on getting sick after hours or you'll have to go to emergency and only have a 50/50 chance of getting meds (and also have to go back the next day to get your change as most [inaka?] hospitals don't keep their money drawers open past closing). Every city has hospitals on rotation to be open on holidays/Sundays so you aren't SOL, it's just a pain in the ass (but a lot cheaper at least).

THIS SO MUCH. I had to go twice to my local clinic for him to finally do an X-ray (which he had on site) and see that my left lung was full of "water" from bronchitis. I told him the first time I went that I had already been sick for like 2 weeks, coughing, hacking, difficulty breathing... guy just ignored me, gave me asprin, and told me to come back if it gets worse. I was like WTF dude, I'm already worse... if it was the flu I would be healthy by now jack ash

chikorita
April 16th, 2014, 13:30
You may have to do a bit of research to find somewhere with reasonable opening hours. The doctor I usually go to is open weekdays 8am til 7pm and also Saturday mornings. Almost every other place in town is Mon-Fri, 9 til 4. I checked on the Internet in advance and found the places with longer hours. If I have a specific concern, I look up all the words I might need and write it all down on a piece of paper, and I also bring my dictionary with me, and that's sufficed for me so far. Like other posters have said, doctors usually know medical terms in English, but they don't always speak English that well.

When I realised that my prescription meds are cheaper here than they are at home (and I can get exactly the same meds here), I just started getting them from my local doctor, but it can be a bit of a pain trying to get more than a few weeks worth. I managed to talk him into giving me three months worth at a time, but that was the best I could do.

tl;dr if you don't have any specific serious concerns about your health right now, and you don't mind potentially wiggling around awkward opening hours and waiting in a line for a while to see a doctor, wait until you get to Japan

JerryDavid
June 10th, 2014, 18:52
When I went to the dentist, I took a long train ride into Matsudo for a trilingual clinic (JP/EN/CH) rather than mess with the ones in my area. They did everything in one visit, though there was an option for a two visit procedure. It seems like the ones with younger dentists are willing to cut down on appointments.

Have you checked if there are any closer english speaking dentists? You can search for english speaking dentists/hospitals on Medical Tourism Info - Hospitals, Dentists Health News | HealthyIM (http://healthyim.com/en/)
I can speak pretty some Japanese, but I don't feel like practicing Japanese when my wisdom tooth is killing me -,-

zombiekelly
June 11th, 2014, 12:42
I'm back in 'murika, so no. But I didn't want to pussyfoot around, and besides that site returns 0 dentists for my area.

scarreddragon
June 11th, 2014, 13:06
I stopped going to the big hospitals once I find my English-speaking small-clinic owning doctor. I go to him for everything, because the hospitals will take 2 hours to tell you in 2 minutes what the problem maybe is, and it usually turns out to be wrong anyway. If it is something he can't do at his clinic, then he'll write me a letter to refer me to someone who can take care of it, and I'm in and out of wherever that is with no hassle.

So shop around, I guess... go to the hospital once and get some recs for a clinic and see what works better for you.

Same with dentists. If you don't like the one, go to a different one. Since there isn't any sort of officially approved list like in the states, you can take your time and find one you actually like.