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Tourists' unpaid medical bills take toll on Japanese hospitals

Government seeks ways to encourage travel insurance, improve communication

TOKYO -- As Japan enjoys booming inbound tourism, hospitals are seeing more cases of nonpayment by foreign travelers who fall ill but lack insurance coverage, prompting an alarmed government to consider a response.

According to a 2016 survey by the health ministry, around 80% of 1,710 responding institutions said they provided outpatient treatment to foreigners, while about 60% offered in-hospital care. Among those, 35% said they had nonpayment issues over the previous year.

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