Health is just as important as wealth to expats – but where do you go for the best medical care?
The good news is expats can access top-class health care if they know where to look.
But while the National Health Service offers free care back in Britain, few countries have similar services.
It’s tough putting a price on your health, but at the very least you are probably looking for well-trained doctors, clean and efficient hospitals and affordable care in an accessible location.
Many top expat destinations can offer this level of health care, but if you are retiring on a budget or not a high-earner, the price tag can be daunting.
The world’s best health care
So unless you have deep pockets, the USA, United Arab Emirates, Australia and similar nations are likely places to avoid.
Surprisingly, one of the most popular expat destinations with the best health care is Malaysia in the Asia Pacific.
Expats have voted the country’s hospitals, nurses and doctors top class in several polls. Malaysia does have a two-speed health service that is part private and public.
Typically, the private service is best, as you would expect, but they are still affordable for routine care and getting a diagnosis from a consultant simply means joining the queue. Appointments and referrals are not needed.
Medicines are cheap as well.
A visit to the doctor will cost $50 or $60 and an overnight hospital stay comes in at $200 for a private room.
No appointments necessary
France also wins praise from expats for offering quality health care.
The World Health Organisation consistently rates France as one of the world’s leading medical providers and the cost of health insurance is comparatively low.
Many patients suffering from long-term or terminal illnesses receive free prescriptions.
Thailand also rates well with expats, who praise the cleanliness and standards in hospitals.
Expats need health insurance as no public service is provided, but the cost is cheap compared to the massive bills in the USA.
Like Malaysia, doctors are available without appointments and as a bonus, English is spoken by doctors and nursing staff in most places.
US expats retiring to South America highly rate the health services in Mexico, Costa Rica and Ecuador.