If you’re pregnant in Japan and planning on giving birth here, one question that’s probably on your mind is, “How much does it cost to give birth in Japan (and how to pay for it)?”
Any information regarding insurance comes directly from the website of Kyoukai Kenpo, the Japan Health Insurance Association (全国健康保険協会 | zenkoku kenkou hoken kyoukai).
The Cost of Giving Birth in Japan
To begin, the cost of giving birth in Japan depends heavily on several variables. Let’s start with some basics:
“Natural” births (自然分娩 | shizen bunben) are the norm here, and it’s the cheapest option. Birth with an epidural (無痛分娩 | mutsuu bunben) will cost extra, as well as birth by c-section (帝王切開 | teiou sekkai). Giving birth to twins (双子 | futago) or multiples will cost extra.
Additionally, public hospitals will be cheaper than private clinics, and choosing a private room (個室 | koshitsu) over shared room (多床室 ｜tashoushitu) will cost more, too. Likewise, metropolitan areas will cost more than provincial areas.
For example, at the Japanese Red Cross Medical Center, a natural birth plus 6 day hospital stay can cost between 650,000 to 680,000 yen. Birth by C-section plus 9 day hospital stay is 750,000 yen. A high-risk birth at the same facility can cost upwards of 840,000 yen.
A “natural” birth at Chiba Nishi General Hospital, on the other hand, with a stay in a shared room, is around 500,000 yen, including meals.
According to this mom who gave birth at Sanno Birth Center, a 5 night, 6 day stay with an epidural cost 1,520,0000 yen.
All fees quoted do not include insurance payments, which I talk about next:
How To Pay for Childbirth in Japan
Nearly all hospitals and birth clinics require a deposit of 100,000 – 200,000 yen. This deposit goes towards your final payment on the day of discharge.
In addition, insurance offers two forms of payment to cover the cost of giving birth in Japan:
1. Childbirth Lump Sum Allowance (出産育児一時金 | shussan ikuji ichiji kin)
2. Childbirth (Maternity) Allowance (出産手当金 | shussan teate kin)
Both forms of payment are paid through your insurance provider, whether it be the National Health Insurance, your company’s insurance, or your husband’s insurance.
Childbirth Lump Sum Allowance (出産育児一時金)
The lump sum allowance of 420,000 yen per child delivered is perhaps what comes immediately to mind when you talk about childbirth payments in Japan. It’s a lump sum that’s either paid directly to the birth clinic/hospital in one payment.
Alternatively, you can opt to have it sent to your bank account. But, if you choose this option, you will have to pay your hospital bill in full before leaving.
Regardless of how you choose to receive the Childbirth Lump Sum Allowance, it helps offsets the cost of giving birth in Japan.
If the total cost of your labor/hospital stay and extras exceed 420,000 yen, you’ll need to pay the difference on the day of your discharge.
If the total cost of your labor/hospital stay and extras are under 420,000 yen, you will be refunded the difference after filling out a form.
FYI this form is called「健康保険出産育児一時金内払金支払依頼書・差額申請書」kenkou hoken shussan ikuji ichijikin uchibaraikin shiharai iraisho sakaku shinseisho. Link to form here (PDF in Japanese).
It’s worth noting that the Childbirth Lump Sum Allowance is also paid in the event of premature delivery (早産), stillbirth (死産) and miscarriage (流産) provided that you are more than 4 months/85 days pregnant at the time of miscarriage.
Childbirth (Maternity) Allowance (出産手当金)
Think of Childbirth Maternity Allowance as ”paid childbirth and maternity” leave. It’s a lump payment that covers time taken off work for maternity leave.
Just to be clear, “maternity” leave is considered to be 42 days leading up to giving birth and 56 days after giving birth.
Of course, babies are rarely born on their estimated day of birth, so this period varies from mom to mom. (Childcare leave is something completely different and I talk about the details/differences in this post.)
So, how much is Childbirth (Maternity) Allowance? You’ll get ⅔ of your monthly salary. Let’s say you make 250,000 yen before taxes. That breaks down to 8,333 yen a day, and ⅔ of that is 5,550 yen.
Multiply that daily rate by the actual amount of days taken for maternity leave, and that’s what you’ll receive. If you took 98 days off in total, you’d get 543,900 yen.
Now, Childbirth (Maternity) Allowance is something that is applied for after “maternity leave” and it’s transferred to your bank account within 1-2 months. Application form here (PDF in Japanese).
In my case, a “natural” birth with my husband present, my balance was 530,000 yen. My hospital required a 100,000 yen deposit and with the Childbirth Lump Sum Allowance of 420,000 yen through my company’s insurance, I paid 13,000 yen out of pocket.
As I stayed in a private room, the additional fee was 12,000 yen per night but if I stayed in a shared room, I would have received 30,000-40,000 yen.
Birth can either be a super amazing or an intensely traumatizing event, so I highly suggest that you do your research and choose a hospital based on YOUR convenience and not cost.
To be fair, I only ever gave birth once so I can’t compare hospitals, but I cannot stress the importance of picking the right birth clinic or hospital.
Overall, I was very pleased with the cost of giving birth in Japan, though there’s so much paperwork involved. My advice is to be patient, keep copies of everything in a special folder, and write the date submitted on each copy.
For more on being pregnant and giving birth in Japan, check out these posts: