Upcoming Medical Device Reimbursement Changes in Japan

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW) has proposed reimbursement changes which will be finalized by April. Medical device reimbursement prices are revised every two years in Japan. The MHLW posted the proposed changes on their website on February 13, 2008.

Some of the changes included reimbursement price increases to support additional safety checks of medical devices. For example, the MHLW will have clinical engineers involved in evaluating the following medical devices:

  • Heart-lung Machines
  • Blood Circulation Machines
  • Artificial Respirators
  • Blood Purifiers
  • Defibrillators
  • Closed Incubators

To support this additional service, the MHLW proposes increasing the reimbursement prices for these medical devices by 50 points.

In addition, the MHLW has also picked 42 out of 681 proposed new medical device categories to prioritize for reimbursement. Examples of these medical devices include stents for the carotid artery, medical devices placed in the C2 reimbursement category (a product with a new function and a new technology), and vessel sealing systems.

The MHLW has also proposed increased reimbursement for medical imaging equipment such as CT scanners, MRIs, and X-rays.

Medical device manufacturers have the opportunity to comment on these draft reimbursement prices before the MHLW finalizes these changes.