Japan’s health care system is a source of great pride for the country. Japan attained universal health coverage over 50 years ago and the country's health outcomes are some of the best in the world by many measures, while health care spending is at relatively low levels.
Despite the many positive aspects of the system, it faces challenges. The demographic wave of rising numbers of elderly will put new pressures on the care delivery system and the nation’s budget. Moreover, the country has high utilization of many health care services, care delivery is often fragmented, and measures of quality are not commonly available or necessarily used for continuous improvement. How will Japan address these issues and manage the health care needs and rising costs of its aged and still aging society? What can other countries, such as the United States, learn from the Japanese experience, and can new care delivery innovations taking place around the globe help address Japan's challenges?