The World's 6 Best Countries for Healthcare Services

By Aubrey Tan  |  Updated: February 23, 2019

Jennifer Stevens, an International Living executive editor, explains that medical services are one of the most important factors to be considered by expatriates before moving abroad. If someone moves to a good location outside of the country, he may be able to have access to first class medical services at a lower cost compared to the cost usually charged in his home country.

Among the factors rated by the Annual Global Retirement Index to find the best system for medical service among countries are:


  • Treatment cost

  • Accessibility of medical treatment

  • Quality of medical services

  • Insurance coverage

  • Cost of medicines

The 6 top-rated countries for the Best Health Care in the World category in the Annual Global Retirement Index for the year 2019 are:

#5 Mexico (tied)

Mexico offers low cost of living and high quality medical services. Mexico has become one of the favorite places for expatriates to find shelter near the US and Canada.

Most medical doctors and dentists in Mexico receive at least part of their training in the United States. Some of them also continue to go to the United States or Europe to receive training.

Both medium-sized cities and big cities in Mexico have at least one first-class hospital with the cost of treatments and prescription drugs that are generally half the amount of what is being charged in the United States.

In addition, the cost of health insurance in Mexico is a lot cheaper than in the United States. According to Don Murray, a journalist from IL Rivera Maya, Mexico also offers 2 national health plans for residents. The Seguro Popular program is the most preferred plan among expatriates where annual costs can be as much as several hundred dollars for full coverage.



#5 Costa Rica (tied)

Costa Rica has some of the best health services in South America. There are 2 systems available to expatriates:

  • The government-administered universal health system, the 'Costa Rican Social Security Fund', also known as Caja.

  • Private system.

Both health systems are constantly updated in terms of the construction of new hospitals, the purchase of new equipment and technologies and the improvement of staff training.

Doctors especially in the private system speak English well and have received training in Europe, Canada, or the United States. However, the cost of treatment remains low compared to most places.

John Michael Arthur is a Texas physician currently living in Central Valley, Costa Rica. He has a lot of praises for the healthcare system in Costa Rica.

He states that both public and private healthcare systems available to residents will be able to provide them with the best option when one needs them. According to him, high quality healthcare services (medical, surgical and dental) are easily found and the treatment cost for the private system is about one third of the cost usually charged in the United States.

For example, he recently crowned his teeth with zirconium materials costing only about US$ 275. He also underwent an echocardiogram test for only US$ 145 with full analysis and report.



#4 Ecuador

High quality and inexpensive health services are one of the great benefits for foreigners living in Ecuador. The cost for health services even in metropolitan areas is just a fraction of the fees usually charged in North America.

You can find private hospitals and clinics that are using the latest technologies and medical experts from all fields in big cities. Small towns also have private clinics and modern hospitals. So, as an expatriate, you don't have to live in big cities to enjoy quality medical services. Small town private doctors often provide home-calling services if you are too ill to go out.

Jim Santos, a correspondent from IL Salinas, mentioned that Ecuador has passed a law since February 2016 so that health services are also available for new residents. The same law also prevents all private insurance providers from denying protection to a person solely due to age or health related factors previously experienced by the person. This indirectly opens the private market. However, expatriates can still choose to enroll for a government-run health plan. This includes all medical, dental, and eye care expenses (including prescription, testing, recovery, etc.) at IESS hospitals and clinics without any deductible or co-payment.

Expatriates are eligible to use the plan after paying for the first three months.

Donna Stiteler is an International Living correspondent residing in the third largest city in Ecuador and the economic center of South Sierra, Cuenca.

Rowland (her husband) was a writer who has sustained injury on his index finger when he tried to use a saw.

He only had to wait five minutes in order to go to the emergency room where a surgeon sewed his finger for only US$ 60.

She and her husband are eligible to use the government health plan that covers both under US$ 100. Instead, she always paid herself for all the treatment she has done because of the extremely low cost of about 20% from the total cost of treatment in the United States. You can see physicians for only US$ 40 per person.



#3 Thailand

Thailand finished third with 92 points. According to Michael Cullen, a Thailand IL correspondent, the country is a leader in medical tourism in the Southeast Asian region. All high quality hospitals are internationally recognized, have trained doctors and most can speak English especially in major cities throughout Thailand.

Dental services and other health services also have the same international standards. The cost of health services in Thailand is less than half the cost charged in the United States. In Thailand, expatriates do not have access to the public health insurance. However, there are many other options for obtaining private insurance from a variety of good companies both domestically and internationally.

The private healthcare system in Thailand comprises a number of well-equipped and high-tech hospitals. You can see a medical specialist in a short amount of time without having to book an appointment first.



#2 Perancis

France ranks second with 93 points out of 100. France has consistently gained high marks for the Best Health Care in the World category in the Annual Global Retirement Index and World Health Organization (WHO) for having low cost health insurance and excellent service quality.

According to the latest WHO data in the year 2018, French citizens have a life expectancy of up to 85.7 years for women and 80.1 years for men. This gave France a 55th place in the world's life expectancy ranking while the United States was ranked 34.

Stewart Richmond, a reporter in southern France, said there was a reason why WHO named France as the world's best healthcare center. According to him, all their citizens have access to health services and their prices are very affordable. Prescription drugs are highly subsidized and are among the cheapest in the world. All medical services and medicines are provided free of charge for those with long-term illnesses such as cancer or multiple sclerosis.



#1 Malaysia

Malaysia scores 95 out of 100 and has been ranked first in the World's Best Health Care category in the Annual Global Retirement Index 2019. Medical services in this Southeast Asian country are world-class with a wide range of modern and sophisticated infrastructure.

There are 13 hospitals recognized by JCI in the country and almost all doctors speak English fluently. Most doctors in Malaysia have received medical training in the United Kingdom, the United States or Australia. Thus, communicating in English is not a problem. Malaysia is also a popular tourist destination.

You do not need an appointment to see a physician here in Malaysia. You also do not need referral from a general physician in order to see a specialist. You can just walk-in for registration at the hospital and wait for your turn to meet your preferred medical specialist.

Prescription prices in Malaysia are only part of the total price charged in the United States. The cost and quality of the services are very good. The pharmacists are well trained and knowledgeable. Most Malaysians are friendly and they often show a great deal of concern for any problems that are expressed.

Keith Hockton, a Malaysian journalist, took a health screening test at Lam Wah Eee's hospital in the morning. He believes that medical services in Malaysia are efficient and time-saving. Within just 1 hour after enrolling in the hospital, he was already on his way back and has completed the health screening test.

The total cost of the health screening test was only US$ 44. In the afternoon, doctors had already telephoned him with the test results. This level of efficiency in the medical service sector is what makes Malaysia an attractive choice.

You may also be interested in:

6 Tips for Getting the Right Specialist

Tips to Get Ready for Your Doctor's Appointment

34 Types of Medical Specialists & Their Roles

6 Tips to Negotiate Your Medical Bills




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