The Huge Cost Of Healthcare For Expats

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA

If you are moving to a new country for business or leisure, you need to get a grip on healthcare costs.

Expats who are regularly on the move will discover that the cost of treatment can vary greatly between countries – and if you do not have adequate insurance, poor health can soon drain your bank account and savings.

Those on assignment are likely to find their employer will offer medical cover as part of their remuneration package, but expats moving home to another country for pleasure or retirement are on their own.

The most recent cost comparison report was published by trade body the International Federation of Health Plans in 2016.

The study looked at the prices of drugs and medical procedures in 25 countries.

UK and USA among most expensive

The results were surprising.

One of the most expensive operations was a heart bypass, where American’s are charged a massive $78,318. IN Spain the cost is nearer $14,579.

A colonoscopy – a procedure to examine the inside of the colon, cost $3,059 in the UK, but only $589 in Spain and $372 in Australia.

The UK was among the most expensive countries for several procedures – including abdominal CT scans and cardiac catheterisations.

America was most expensive for childbirth – with mothers paying $10808 for a natural delivery or $16,106 for a caesarean. The cheapest was South Africa, where the births cost $1,271 and $$2,192 respectively.

258 million expats on the move

South Africa also leads the way for hip and knee replacements compared with the USA. In South Africa, a knee replacement averages $7,795, against $28,184 in the USA.

Even going to the dentist can show up extremes in the cost of treatment.

For instance, a root canal is priced at $421 in France, rising to $1,100 in Canada and $2,900 in Singapore.

The price of a night in hospital also varies considerably – from $5,220 in the USA to a paltry $661 in Italy. China ($682) and Singapore ($780) are among the cheapest, while patients in Canada pay $2,841.

Healthcare firm AXA argues medical cover is more important than ever for expats, with 258 million expats estimated to have moved countries and 98% of businesses viewing a global, mobile workforce as vital to achieving their objectives.

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