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Advice On Worker's Compensation

Author: Author unknown, Issue: November 1997, Topic: Advice

The number of cases at the "Foreigner Consultation Section" involving medical insurance claims for foreign workers has been steadily rising in recent years. Thus, we offer the following general points of information for foreigners working in Japan.

In principle, the level of medical coverage for injury to a worker is the same for foreigners and Japanese. Because of language and cultural differences, however, foreign workers frequently run into problems. Thus, in order to minimize the potential for such problems arising, it is important to be aware of the following points:

1) In order to get appropriate medical treatment, it is very important to go to an appropriate hospital. This means that,

  • it must be a hospital designated to provide medical treatment under the benefits of workmen's accident compensation insurance,
  • and the hospital must have adequate facilities and doctors available to provide the necessary treatment for sick and injured patients. One must be very careful in choosing the right hospital, because the choice has a tremendous effect on the kind of medical treatment and compensation one will receive. Foreigners faced with such an important decision need help, because most do not even know the name or location of such a hospital.

2) The second important point is that in case of an injury, the doctor has to be told as precisely as possible the circumstances of the accident and the current condition of the patient. Thus, receiving appropriate medical treatment depends in part on having a high level of proficiency in Japanese (or someone who does going with you) in order to report the details of the accident and the resulting situation. Likewise, it is also essential to be able to verbally describe one's condition and symptoms such as pain, numbness, etc., which only the patient can do. Even for a minor injury, some such information is necessary for a doctor to make a proper diagnosis of the possible effects on the nervous system. Also, in order to determine the possibility of internal injuries, the doctor needs to be able to communicate with the patient. Without such communication between the doctor and patient, there is the possibility that the wrong treatment will be given as a result of the wrong diagnosis, with the result that in addition to any medical complications, problems can also arise later in the procedures required for receiving medical compensation.

3) The third important point is that in order to receive medical compensation benefits, one item need special attention. Namely, it is very important that one's name and date of birth are recorded accurately in medical records. This avoids problems that might from your not being identified properly arise in the future. There have often been cases when a person's nickname has not been the same as the official name in his or her passport. Likewise, there have been instances in which the person who is taking care of the injured or sick person reports the name incorrectly. Problems may also result because the name is written in katakana and is not checked closely against the original. Thus, one should make every effort to avoid such problems and should be sure that the name is correct before initiating procedures for obtaining medical compensation benefits.

Do you have any questions? The Foreigners Consultation Section of the Ibaraki Government is available to answer any of your legal questions. Call 029-244-3811 in Japanese on any work day. For help in other languages, there are two days a month when consultations in 10 common foreign languages are available, usually the second and fourth Tuesdays. For November, the free legal consultation days are Nov. 11 and 25. There will also be a "free legal consultation day" held on Nov. 16 (Sunday) at the Ibaraki-Ken Bengoshi Kaikan in Mito. For further information on that or other information, call the number above.

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