In any case, despite my interest in Japanese culture, at the time I didn't realize that my idea was exactly how it is handled in Japan. Since then I have read several articles and blog posts describing the state of healthcare in Japan, and it appears I was 100% correct in that it's both a better system and yet still imperfect. In case you disagreed with me, allow me to extend the olive branch by saying NEENER NEENER NEENER ha ha on you, fuckers. Besides, I think we're all agreed that the universe just makes more sense when I'm right.
The funny thing is that the negative things I've read about Japanese healthcare have often come from Americans living in Japan who apparently believe in the myth of American healthcare and don't think the problems in Japan are already shared by us. Inexperienced doctors misdiagnosing? We have that. Older doctors who don't listen or show concern for their patients? Check. Rural clinics with limited resources? Ditto. Doctors scheduling unnecessary follow-ups to pad their wallet? If we didn't invent the concept, we at least mastered it. Issuing prescriptions that are too weak to be effective. Okay, I'll admit I don't hear that one often, although I have known several people who got addicted to industrial strength pills who informed their doctors of a desire to get off the medication only to be answered with a new prescription, so I think we're working the opposite end of the spectrum on that one.
An interesting story written about one gaijin's experience with J-care is here. If you're too lazy to read the whole thing, basically the man got cancer while living in Japan, went to a hospital, had a week-long stay including surgery and treatment, then at the end had to pay about $1,000 (full disclosure - that amount was the 30% of the full bill his insurance didn't pay). I agree with the author that the amount was "probably" less than he would have paid in the US. In fact, that's what I paid for a single day in my hospital room, not including any actual medical care - just the room fee. The writer of that article complained that the front desk nurse was brusque and that you have to bring things like toiletries and eating utensils because they're not "free" like in a US hospital, but if my weeklong bill of $85,000 could have been reduced by $84,000, I would have gladly provided my own washcloth and fork.
And now, of course, I close my brilliant post with a picture of a hot Japanese nurse.