Japan's healthcare expenditure hits all-time high of $36b in 2017

This is due to demand for costly anti-cancer drugs.

Japan spent a staggering $36b (JPY4.2t) on healthcare in 2017, new government figures revealed.

Expenditures for patients 75 or older were $14b (JPY16t), marking a year-on-year increase of $5.97b (JPY680b). More than 70% of the overall increase in healthcare expenditures stemmed from increases in spending for this elderly cohort.

A reason behind the increasing expenditures on healthcare is the steadily rising number of expensive drugs used for certain diseases covered by insurance, such as Harvoni and Sovaldi to treat Hepatitis C or Opdivo to treat cancer.

Per capita, the expenditures on those 75 or older were $8,267 (JPY942,000) on average, which is up $105.31 (JPY12,000) YoY. This is higher compared to the $1940 (JPY221,000), which is up JPY 4,000, for those under 75. This means that medical costs for those 75 and older are four times the amount for those in younger age brackets.

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