healthcare italian prescription medications all its citizens retire abroad private system social security system medical needs affordable healthcare spanish national health system private insurance companies free healthcare private medical insurance international health insurance universal healthcare coverage country's public healthcare system public health insurance plans world class health facilities high quality healthcare services public healthcare services public hospitals german healthcare system prescription drug costs private institutions swiss healthcare system public healthcare access mental health english speaking healthcare professionals public health services digital nomads health care retire overseas destination country new university clinics and hospitals joint commission international healthcare expenses additional coverage extensive network long stay visa general taxation Expats who are looking for a new home abroad often prioritize healthcare quality above many other factors. Identifying countries that offer superior healthcare services is crucial for ensuring a safe and healthy living environment.

The best destinations for expats are those with advanced medical facilities, an efficient healthcare system, and reasonably priced services. These nations distinguish themselves by making high-quality healthcare accessible and straightforward for the international community. With a focus on both preventive and emergency care, they ensure that residents receive comprehensive medical attention when needed.

For expats, choosing a country with exceptional healthcare is not just about medical emergencies. It’s about the peace of mind that comes from knowing that health and wellness are top priorities. Certain countries are more appealing to those looking to relocate, as they offer a combination of healthcare excellence and a supportive environment for foreigners.

Countries with best healthcare for expats

Portugal's Health care System social security number costa rica south korea panama city self employed rural areas joint commission general practitioner pre existing conditions three months english speaking countries with best healthcare for expats long term medical records When you are an expat moving to a foreign country, it is important to search for several essential aspects of the healthcare system to ensure that you and your family have access to high-quality medical care. Here are some critical factors that you should consider:

Accessibility of Healthcare Services: You’d want to know how easy it is to access medical services, including the availability of hospitals, clinics, and specialists, especially in proximity to where you’ll be living.

Quality of Care: The standard of healthcare services, including the proficiency and qualifications of medical professionals, as well as the availability of modern medical technology and treatments, is crucial.

Healthcare Costs and Insurance: Understanding the cost of healthcare services, including how healthcare is funded, whether through national healthcare systems, private insurance, or out-of-pocket payments, is important. You’d also look into the process of obtaining health insurance that covers you in the foreign country.

Language Barrier: For many expats, finding healthcare providers who speak their language or have access to translators can be a significant concern, impacting the quality of care and understanding of medical advice.

Emergency Services: Knowing how the country handles medical emergencies, the efficiency of ambulance services, and the process for emergency hospital admissions are vital for peace of mind.

Pharmaceutical Access: Access to medications, especially if you require specific drugs, and understanding the process for prescriptions in the new country are also important considerations.

Cultural Sensitivity and Patient Privacy: The extent to which healthcare providers are culturally sensitive and respect patient privacy can be a concern, especially in countries with different cultural norms around healthcare.

Preventive Care and Wellness Programs: Services such as regular check-ups, vaccinations, and public health initiatives are important for maintaining health and preventing illness.

Expatriate Healthcare Community: Having access to a community of fellow expats to share healthcare experiences and recommendations can be extremely helpful in navigating a new healthcare system.

Legal and Bureaucratic Processes: Understanding any legal requirements or bureaucratic processes related to healthcare in the country, including residency requirements for accessing healthcare services, is essential for a smooth transition.

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Here are some of the countries with the best healthcare for expats:


Singapore’s healthcare system is distinguished by its efficiency and high-quality care, featuring state-of-the-art medical facilities and a comprehensive public health insurance scheme. Expats enjoy access to a wide range of medical services, from routine check-ups to specialized treatments.

The system is a hybrid of public and private healthcare, allowing for flexibility in the choice of services and providers. Singapore consistently ranks high in global healthcare rankings, reflecting its commitment to healthcare excellence and innovation.


Germany offers a robust healthcare system that combines public and private health insurance, ensuring that all residents, including expats, have access to comprehensive medical care. The system is known for its short waiting times, excellent hospital care, and widespread availability of specialists.

Expats particularly appreciate the high standard of medical treatment, the efficiency of healthcare services, and the option to choose between statutory health insurance and private health insurance, depending on their needs and status.


Switzerland’s healthcare system is characterized by its high quality, accessibility, and patient-centered approach. It operates on a mandatory health insurance model, requiring all residents, including expats, to have health insurance coverage.

This ensures universal access to a wide range of healthcare services. Swiss healthcare providers are known for their professionalism and the high standard of care, with the country boasting some of the best medical facilities and research institutions in the world.


When it comes to countries with the best healthcare for expats, Sweden offers a public healthcare system focused on providing high-quality and equitable care to all residents, including expatriates. The system is funded through taxation, ensuring that healthcare services are accessible at low out-of-pocket costs.

Expats benefit from comprehensive healthcare services, including preventive care, specialist treatment, and emergency services. Sweden’s emphasis on public health and preventive care contributes to the overall well-being and high life expectancy of its residents.


Australia’s healthcare system blends public and private services, ensuring comprehensive coverage for all, including expats. The public system, Medicare, provides access to essential healthcare services at little or no cost.

Expatriates particularly value the high standard of medical care, the availability of diverse healthcare services, and the option for additional private health insurance to cover services not fully covered by Medicare. Australia’s focus on public health initiatives and preventive care further enhances its appeal as a destination with excellent healthcare for expats.

Difference Between Private and Public Healthcare as an Expat

It is crucial for expats to understand the differences between private and public healthcare (sometimes called universal healthcare) systems in their new country. This will help them navigate medical services and make informed decisions about their health care. Here are the primary differences:

Public healthcare

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Universal Access: Public systems aim to provide healthcare access to all legal residents, often at low or no direct cost at the point of use. This inclusivity ensures that basic healthcare needs are met for the entire population.

Waiting Times: Due to the universal nature and high demand, public healthcare systems may have longer waiting times for certain non-emergency procedures and specialist appointments.

Limited Choice: Patients may have limited choice in terms of doctors, specialists, and hospitals. In many public systems, you’re assigned healthcare providers based on your location or availability.

Private healthcare

free healthcare spain's public healthcare additional private insurance medical procedures costa rica south korea taxable income permanent residency health insurance plans primary healthcare speak english high standardsFunded by Private Insurance or Out-of-Pocket Payments: Private healthcare requires either direct payment or purchasing private health insurance. It operates alongside or independently from the public system.

Faster Access: One of the main advantages is quicker access to specialists, elective procedures, and treatments, bypassing the long waiting times often found in the public system.

More Choice: Private healthcare typically offers more choices regarding healthcare providers. Patients can choose their doctors, specialists, and hospitals.

Higher Quality Facilities: Private healthcare facilities often boast more modern amenities, higher comfort levels, and possibly better equipment, contributing to a more pleasant healthcare experience.

Cost: The major downside is the cost. Private healthcare or insurance can be expensive, and costs can vary widely based on the level of coverage, treatments sought, and the provider.

Expats need to consider a few things when it comes to healthcare. Firstly, they should check if their health insurance plan covers international healthcare services, particularly if they prefer private healthcare. Some insurance plans may only offer emergency coverage abroad.

In many countries, healthcare operates on a hybrid model, where public and private healthcare systems coexist. Expats might choose private insurance to supplement public healthcare, covering services that are not available or subject to long waits in the public system.

It’s important to note that some countries require expats to have private health insurance as a condition for obtaining a visa or as part of the residency registration process.

Countries with the Best Public Healthcare Systems


France has a highly efficient and universally accessible healthcare system that is renowned for its quality of care. It operates on a reimbursement model where patients pay for services upfront and are then reimbursed a significant portion of the costs by public health insurance. Optional private insurance can cover the remainder.

This system provides high accessibility to a wide range of healthcare services, from primary care to specialized treatments. French healthcare providers are highly skilled, resulting in some of the shortest waiting times for surgeries and specialist appointments The French healthcare system blends public and private elements to provide flexibility while maintaining a strong focus on patient care and accessibility.


Canada’s publicly funded healthcare system, known as Medicare, provides universal coverage to all citizens and permanent residents, ensuring access to necessary hospital and physician services without any direct charges at the point of care.

The system is financed through taxes and administered by each province and territory, which may lead to some variation in services covered. Despite some challenges such as wait times for elective procedures, the Canadian healthcare system is highly regarded for its focus on preventive care and public health, comprehensive coverage, and efforts to enhance accessibility and quality of care throughout the country.

Canada’s healthcare approach is based on the belief that everyone, irrespective of their financial status, has the fundamental right to access healthcare.


Japan has a healthcare system that is known for its universal coverage, efficiency, and high-quality medical care. All residents are required to have health insurance either through their employer or via a community-based system.

The costs are shared between the government, employers, and individuals to ensure that everyone has access to a wide range of healthcare services at a relatively low cost.

The system is funded by premiums, government subsidies, and out-of-pocket payments, and strict regulations control medical fees to prevent cost inflation. The Japanese healthcare system places emphasis on preventive care and regular check-ups which is a contributing factor to the country’s long life expectancy. Japan’s healthcare system is highly respected worldwide due to its accessibility, affordability, and emphasis on early intervention, and preventive care.

United Kingdom

The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK provides comprehensive healthcare services that are free at the point of use. It is primarily funded through taxation and covers a wide range of services, from primary care and emergency treatments to long-term care and specialized services.

The NHS is proud of its founding principles, which include meeting the needs of everyone, providing care for free, and prioritizing clinical need over the ability to pay. While there are challenges such as waiting times for certain treatments, the NHS is highly valued by residents for its accessibility and the quality of care provided.

The UK invests significantly in healthcare research, which helps the National Health Service to lead in medical innovations and treatments. The focus of the system on universal accessibility and patient care without the fear of financial hardship reflects the UK’s commitment to public welfare and healthcare as a human right.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Healthcare for Expats

What country has the best affordable health care?

Taiwan is often cited as a country with an effective healthcare system that provides both affordability and quality. The National Health Insurance (NHI) program in Taiwan is a single-payer system that offers comprehensive coverage to all its residents, including expats who meet specific residency requirements. The NHI program is financed by premiums paid by the government, employers, and employees. This financing method ensures extensive coverage, including outpatient visits, hospitalization, traditional Chinese medicine, dental care, prescription drugs, and various other services.

Can you access private hospitals as an expat?

Yes, expats can access private hospitals in most countries, often choosing them for their high-quality services, shorter waiting times, and more personalized care.

What is universal healthcare?

Universal healthcare is a system that provides health services to all individuals and communities without the risk of financial hardship from medical expenses. It’s built on the principle that healthcare is a right, not a privilege, based on needs rather than the ability to pay. In some countries, universal healthcare also gives you access to private hospitals.

Is there a minimum standard of healthcare set out by the World Health Organization?

The World Health Organization (WHO) believes that everyone should have access to healthcare services without facing financial difficulties. This is known as universal health coverage (UHC). While the WHO acknowledges that there can be differences in economic, cultural, and political contexts between countries, it has identified certain essential elements that should be a part of universal healthcare that aims to achieve UHC. However, the WHO does not prescribe a universal “minimum standard” of healthcare that applies to all countries.

Where does America rank in healthcare?

The United States does not typically rank at the top for the best healthcare systems, despite spending a significant portion of its GDP on healthcare. Various studies and rankings, such as those conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Commonwealth Fund, and other health research institutions, often place the US health services lower than those of other developed countries.

What are the top countries with the best healthcare for expats?

Here are the top countries with the best healthcare for expats in 2024:

  • Singapore
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Sweden
  • Australia
  • France
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • United Kingdom

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