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Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2002


Getting cash reimbursed for medical costs

We lost one of the anchors of the international community with the sudden and unexpected death of Corky Alexander, longtime Tokyo resident, editor of The Tokyo Weekender and a dear friend.

Corky was one of the very few people I knew who never had an "angle." He never had something "up his sleeve." He was just there for all of us.

The Tokyo Weekender is doing a special edition dedicated to Corky in January. If you have a special memory of Corky or your company would like to place a memorial advertisement, call 03-5689-2471. The deadline is Jan. 7.

Medical costs

Dear Lifelines: I would like a clarification regarding a recent column. Is it true that you can have insurance expenses reimbursed at your city office up to 63,000 yen? -- Eric in Tokyo

Dear Eric in Tokyo; Are you ready? Now this one is a real "doozy." I took me hours to visit a number of different city offices to finally get what I think is the answer. On Oct. 1 there were a number of changes in the National Health Insurance system, but I believe this is the latest information.

The system is called kogaku ryo yo hi. It essentially means "payment for large medical expenses" and is designed to help when you have an unusually large medical bill -- it is basically what's known as catastrophic medical expense coverage.

There are three groups that this applies to. If your yearly income is over 1 million yen and under 6.7 million yen, you have to pay the first 72,300 yen of any medical bills incurred at the same hospital in one month.

Anything over that, and up to 361,500 yen will be reimbursed. Over that you will pay 1 percent of the total. The rest is reimbursed.

If you earn under 1 million yen per year you will be responsible for the first 35,400 yen per month, and the rest will be reimbursed.

If you earn over 6.7 million yen, you will be responsible for the first 139,800 yen per month, up to 699,000 yen and 1 percent thereafter.

Get it? It is a bit confusing, but basically you have to fork out everything at the start, but the majority will be returned to you minus the monthly deduction and the 1 percent, depending on your income.

At the same time -- and this is the wonder that is Japan -- if you can demonstrate for whatever reason that you cannot make the large initial payment, there is a case by case system for the city to pay the hospital first, but these days they are very strict on these exceptions.

The Web site for comprehensive information is www. mhlw. go. jp/ english

International Osaka

Dear Lifelines; I will be beginning a course at Osaka University and I am trying to find information on international companies based in Osaka. I have not been able to find information on the 238 international companies with offices in Osaka. Can you help me? Is there an English language magazine in Osaka? -- G in Osaka

Dear G in Osaka; Probably the best place to start is the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. They have an office in Osaka. The number there is 06-6343-7505. Talk to Mr. Fujita. The number in Tokyo is 03-3433-5381, and you can talk to Don Westmore. The Web site is www. accj. or. jp . For a magazine in Osaka try Kansai Time Out -- you can get it at most larger bookstores and online at www.kto.co.jp.

Beat spam

A number of readers have written regarding spam. Dr. Jean-Guy Rioux, who is a director of IT intelligence and security services gives a list of how to beat the spammers.

* Get another e-mail box -- Hotmail or Yahoo -- to direct Spam to. They will help as they have spam filters.

* Read the fine print -- check carefully when you sign up for any free information services, as you may unwittingly be subscribing to all kinds of spam.

* Unsubscribe from any services that you think may be hitting you with spam. All services are required to provide a way to take yourself off a list.

* Fight back -- there are a number of sites that will help you including spamcop. net and www.junkbusters.com

* Your provider should deal with cellular telephone spam.

You can contract Jean-Guy at: jgrioux@ewa-japan.com


Help in getting packages in time for Christmas? Check out www. dhl. com or Mr. Yamaguchi at: tyo-co.jp.dhl.com.

Trying to learn Japanese? Mr. Fujinobu, a licensed Japanese teacher, will come to your home. E-mail: dcjpn@sepia.ocn.ne.jp, or call 090-3901-3678.

Send your queries, questions, problems and posers, to: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

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