“The medical bills you can pay, the doctors who make home visits and the medical care so that affordable retirees simply pay out of pocket”; that is the reality for those who live in the places with the highest score in the Health Care category of the 2019 Annual Global Retirement Index. Jennifer Stevens, an executive editor of International Living, explains that medical care is one of the most important factors that potential expats consider before moving abroad and in the right places abroad it is possible to access first level care by a fraction of the cost at home. In the 25 countries that are classified and qualify in the Annual Index, the cost, access, and quality of care, insurance and the cost of medicines in the communities where it is recommended that expatriates go” is evaluated.
“We ask questions like, how much do you have to pay for things like laser eye surgery, a dental crown or a blood transfusion? Can you get common medications for things like asthma and diabetes? And do you need a recipe to restock? When it comes to evaluating medical care, we consider quality and price to offer a fair and balanced vision”, says Stevens.
The 6 countries that obtained the best ratings in the category of Best Health Care in the World in the Annual Global Retirement Index this year are…
With a score of 95 out of 100, Malaysia ranks 1st in the Health Care category of the International Living Annual Global Retirement Index 2019. Medical care in the Southeast Asian gem is simply world class with a modern and sophisticated infrastructure.
There are 13 hospitals accredited by JCI in the country and almost all doctors speak English fluently. In fact, most of the Malaysian doctors received training in the United Kingdom, the United States or Australia, so communication is impeccable. It is no wonder that Malaysia is a popular tourist destination.
Here, you do not need an appointment to see a specialist, and you do not need a referral from a general practitioner either. It’s as simple as registering at a hospital and waiting in line to see your specialist of choice.
The recipes in Malaysia cost a fraction of the prices in the United States. But not only the cost is attractive, but it is also the service. Pharmacists, like the rest of Malaysia’s medical staff, are well trained and informed. The Malays are friendly people, but what impresses is the genuine interest they take.
“Recently, I decided on a whim to take a health exam”, says Keith Hockton, Malaysia correspondent. “I had never done one before, and since I had a free morning, I decided to visit the Lam Wah Eee hospital,” says Keith Hockton, a Malaysian correspondent who lives on Penang Island.
“I was already registered and I found myself sitting outside the office of a general practitioner, or 5 minutes after arriving. In less than 1 hour, a doctor had examined me, I had had an ECG exam and I had blood and urine tests… and I was on my way home.
“The total cost of the visit was only US$ 44. The doctor who had examined me called me later that afternoon with the results. It is this level of service that makes medical care in Malaysia an attractive option. Everything is very easy”.
In 2nd place, with 93 points, is France. The low cost of health insurance and the excellent quality of care mean that France consistently receives high marks in the Health Care category of the International Global Annual Retirement Index and with the World Health Organization (WHO).
Life expectancy is now 85.7 years for women and 80.1 for men, according to the latest WHO data published in 2018, which gives France a ranking of 55 in life expectancy in the world. The United States is ranked 34.
“There is a reason why the WHO names France as the best health in the world”, says Stewart Richmond, a correspondent in southern France. “It is accessible to all and affordable. Prescription drugs are heavily subsidized and are among the cheapest in the world. For those who develop long-term diseases such as cancer or multiple sclerosis, all medical care and medications are provided free of charge. “
Recognized for its excellent medical care throughout the country, Thailand ranks third with 92 points. “Thailand is a leader in medical tourism for Southeast Asia”, says Michael Cullen, IL Thailand correspondent. “That means quality hospitals, international standards with well-trained doctors and English speakers in major cities and regional cities throughout Thailand.
“Dental services and other health services they are also well covered, and all with the same international standard. ” For expatriates living in Thailand, it is sensible to have health insurance since there is no national system within the country that they can access. “But with health care costs averaging from one quarter to less than half of what it would cost in the US, the insurance costs will not bankrupt the bank”.
While there is no public health insurance available for expatriates, there are several options for obtaining private insurance from a variety of excellent companies, both national and international.
Thailand’s private health system consists of a large number of well-equipped and state-of-the-art hospitals. One real advantage is that you can often visit a specialist within a short period of time through the front door, without reserving an appointment in advance.
One of the great advantages for the foreign residents that live in Ecuador is the medical attention of high quality and low cost: with 89 points, the Land of the Eternal Spring is located in the 4th place.
“In February 2016, Ecuador passed a law that states that all new residents must have some type of health care coverage,” says Jim Santos, IL Salinas Ecuador correspondent. “However, the same law prevents all private insurers from denying coverage due to age or pre-existing conditions. This opened the private market, although expatriates can also choose to enroll in the state health plan, which covers all medical, dental and ophthalmological care expenses (including prescriptions, tests, rehabilitation, etc.) in hospitals of the IESS. and clinics without deductible and without co-payment. Expatriates are eligible to use the system after paying it for the first 3 months”.
In larger cities, you will find hospitals with state-of-the-art equipment, as well as specialists in all fields and doctors with private clinics. But expats do not need to live in a metropolis to take advantage of good quality medical care. The smaller cities also have private clinics and modern hospitals. And in small cities, you will often find private doctors who make that extra effort and who even make home visits if you are too sick to go out.
The international living correspondent Donna Stiteler lives in the third largest city in Ecuador and in the economic center of the Sierra Sur, Cuenca. “My husband, Rowland, who is a writer and not a carpenter, recently” cut “his index finger”, she says.
“The trip to the emergency room on a Sunday required a 5-minute wait in the emergency room, where a surgeon sewed his finger for only US$ 60. This was the price of the walk without using any insurance. “However, we have the government IESS plan that covers us at 2 for less than US$ 100 per month. We perform most of our medical treatments out of pocket because medical care is 80% cheaper than in the US. And the consultation to the specialists for US$ 40 each”, says Donna.
Costa Rica (tied with Mexico)
In almost any standard, Costa Rica has some of the best health services in Latin America. There are 2 systems, which can be accessed by expatriates: the universal health system administered by the government, the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, known as Caja, and the private system. Both health systems are constantly updated: new hospitals, new equipment and improvements in staff training.
Many doctors, especially in private practice, speak English and have received training in Europe, Canada, or the US. But despite the advances, the costs are low compared to those at home.
Texas doctor John Michael Arthur, MD, who now lives in the Central Valley, Costa Rica, has many accolades for Costa Rica’s health system.
“Having the public health system and the private health system available to residents provides excellent options as you” buy “to receive care,” he says. “High-quality medical care (medical, surgical and dental) is easily found and at about 1/3 of the cost of US prices in the private system.
“For example, recently I had a new cutting-edge zirconium crown placed for approximately US$ 275. And I had an echocardiogram for only US$ 145, and I went with the full analysis and the report in my hands.”
Mexico (tied with Costa Rica)
A favorite place for expatriates looking for a refuge near the US and Canada, Mexico offers an affordable cost of living and excellent medical care.
Most doctors and dentists in Mexico received at least part of their training in the US. Many of them continue going to the USA or Europe to receive continuous training.
Every medium or grand city In Mexico, you have at least one 1st-class hospital with the cost of medical care, in general, half or less than what you could expect to pay in the US. The same goes for prescription medications.
In addition, health insurance in Mexico costs much less than in the US. “Mexico offers 2 national health plans for residents”, says Don Murray, correspondent of IL Rivera Maya. “The most popular among expatriates seems to be the Seguro Popular program, where annual costs can be a few hundred dollars for full coverage”.