Government to freeze controversial medical fee for pregnant women, Japan's health minister says
Japan Times -- Dec 15
The government will temporarily suspend an extra medical fee that pregnant women were required to pay out of pocket to see doctors, health minister Takumi Nemoto said Friday.

The ministry plans to inform medical institutions of the suspension as soon as possible, probably in January, after gaining endorsements by representatives of doctors and others at a meeting of the Central Social Insurance Medical Council, an advisory panel to the health minister, that will be held this month.

The extra-fee system was introduced in April with the aim of making medical institutions take extra care in treating pregnant women. The government has said the additional fees are necessary to fund “special prescriptions” that do not affect pregnancies, unlike ordinary, cheaper prescriptions that can be used for those who are not pregnant.

But the system has faced criticism as pregnant women were asked to pay extra money even when consulting an eye doctor to get contact lenses, which is unrelated to pregnancy.

At a news conference, Nemoto explained that the fee was meant to help improve medical examinations for pregnant women so that they could get medical services without worry.

News source: Japan Times
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