Japan has a remarkable universal health insurance system that boasts the longest longevity in the world despite costing well under half what US health care costs per capita. It is a Bismarck system with non-profit insurance companies, and mainly for-profit clinics that advertise aggressively. Japanese medical prices are controlled by the government which makes Japanese drugs, surgeries, and MRIs very cheap. The prices of surgeries are so cheap that doctors discourage them, but other kinds of medical care are consumed more intensively in Japan than anywhere on earth. To make a profit, the Japanese system encourages extremely high consumption of several kinds of health care compared with the US:
- 14.5 annual doctor office visits per person on average (3X more than in the US) and they routinely do home visits. Doctor visits are extremely short.
- 2X more prescription drugs (doctors get a profit by prescribing them because they also sell them directly).
- 3X more MRI scans.
- Many more days in hospital care (about 5X?).
The government publishes their price controls in a book the size of the Tokyo phone directory. Remarkably, despite extremely strict government price controls, few doctors, and high volumes of consumption, waiting times are very short.