Japan to Scale Back Public Aid for COVID-19 Drugs, Hospital Stays

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Friday that it will reduce public funding for COVID-19 treatments from October. Patients will have to pay ¥3,000 to ¥9,000 for drugs that are currently fully covered by the government.

At present, drugs such as Lagevrio, which costs ¥90,000 per prescription and is used to prevent severe illness, and Xocova, which is for patients at low risk of severe illness and costs ¥50,000 per prescription, are used to treat COVID.

From October, patients will pay a flat fee based on their age and income, regardless of which drug is used or its price.

Patients up to 69 years old will pay ¥9,000, preschool children and those ages 70-74 will be charged ¥6,000 in principle, and those age 75 or over will pay ¥3,000 in principle at medical institutions. However, those age 70 or over with an annual income of about ¥3.7 million or more will pay ¥9,000, and those age 75 or over with an annual income between about ¥2 million and ¥3.7 million will pay ¥6,000.

Public aid for those hospitalized for COVID will be halved from the current limit of ¥20,000 per month to a maximum of ¥10,000 per month.

Medical institutions that hold beds for COVID patients will also receive less compensation for vacant beds. Currently, compensation covers a broad range that includes beds for patients with minor illness, but from October, payments will change according to conditions in each prefecture, and will in general target beds reserved for serious cases that require supplemental oxygen.

The new policy will run through March 2024, and the health ministry will later consider what aid to provide from April.