Japan Patients Likely to Cover Portion of COVID Medications from Oct.

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Xocova, a drug developed to treat COVID-19, is seen at a pharmacy in Osaka in December 2022.

The government is considering requiring patients to pay for a portion of their COVID-19 medications starting Oct. 1, it has been learned, scaling back the government’s temporary measure of financing out-of-pocket expenses.

Patients will be required to pay out-of-pocket costs, which can range from 10%-30% of the remaining amount after public funds are used to cover a portion of the cost of COVID-19 medications, starting in October. According to sources, the government will decide how much of the cost will be covered by public funds at a later date.

In March, when the government decided to review its financing for COVID-19 treatments as a step for the disease’s classification downgrade under the Infectious Diseases Law, the government said it would continue shouldering the entire cost of COVID-related medical expenses as a temporary measure through September. However, it added that it would examine whether the measure should be continued in October and beyond based on the number of COVID patients in the summer.

Between Aug. 14 and 20, there were 17.84 COVID patients per medical institution, less than the 29.83 recorded at the peak of the eighth wave in December. As some hospital beds reserved for those suffering from serious symptoms remain empty, the government believes that scaling back the measure would not create serious problems, sources said.

Under the current temporary measure, up to ¥20,000 per month is given to a patient if they require hospitalization, but the government is considering reducing the amount starting October, according to sources.

The government currently provides subsidies to medical institutions if they reserve beds for COVID patients. However, it plans to establish a new framework under which subsidies will only be given to institutions that reserve beds for patients who require oxygen administration or have more serious symptoms. The government will be more flexible in paying out the subsidies by taking into account various factors, including the number of patients there are in each prefecture.