YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Children of civilian government employees and contractors working at the largest U.S. military base in Tokyo will have to see Japanese doctors for most medical care under a policy announced this week.
“Due to changes in manpower and mission requirements, the 374th Medical Group is adjusting appointment availability,” according to an email Friday from 1st Lt. Danny Rangel, spokesman for Yokota’s 374.e Airlift Wing, at Stars and Stripes.
Starting Aug. 1, routine services and chronic disease management at the Yokota Pediatric Clinic will be limited to Tricare Prime enrollees, according to the statement.
The changes will affect children aged 17 and under who are not enrolled in Tricare Prime, the statement said. Tricare Prime is a health insurance program available to active duty military personnel and their families.
Yokota is home to 12,000 people, including 3,500 service members serving with the airlift wing, according to a fact sheet on the base’s official website. About 1,900 children are enrolled in Tricare Prime at the Yokota Pediatric Clinic. The base does not track children who are not Tricare patients, he said. Yokota’s hospital staff includes three paediatricians, a nurse and four technicians to work with young people.
The change takes place only in Yokota; other US bases in Japan have their own policies based on their resources and needs, Rangel said in a follow-up email late Friday.
Care for patients other than Tricare beneficiaries will be available as resources and staffing permit, he said.
“We are working hard to provide appropriate services, and after assessing the needs of our Tricare Prime recipient populations and the resources available, it was determined that greater access to pediatric care is needed,” he wrote. .
Access to other primary care clinics in Yokota, such as internal medicine and specialty clinics, is not affected by the change, according to the statement.
“Yokota individuals not enrolled in Tricare Prime may still be able to access same-day pediatric acute appointments, if available, by calling the Appointment Line after 1000,” the statement read.
The Urgent Care Clinic remains available for all recipients requiring immediate attention and all appointments confirmed in the system will be honored, the statement said.
“There are several health services available to you in Japan,” according to Rangel’s email. “Please review your health plan options or contact your agency benefits advisor and/or health insurance provider to learn more about the plan options available to you as a federal civilian employee or contractor.”
Information on health care in Japan is available on the website of Japan’s National Tourism Organization and the U.S. Embassy, according to the statement.
People with questions about their child’s pediatric care should call Yokota’s Appointment Line at DSN 225-8864 and leave a message for the pediatric team. Information about Tricare insurance is available from the Tricare office at DSN 225-6478.
“We will continue to assess access to care and keep the community informed of any updates or changes,” officials said in the statement.