Your Top Health Care Overseas Questions Answered

Where’s the best place to get health care overseas?

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” or “perfect” country for health care—it depends on what you want/need. There will always be trade-offs, just like in the U.S.

For example, if you want to live in the country or remote beach towns, you probably won’t find the health facilities you’d expect to find in a big city.

But while health care is a major consideration in deciding if/where to move abroad, it’s not the only factor. Don’t move someplace you hate simply because of its health care. In the end, you won’t be happy—and that could affect your health!

Is it really possible to get health care on a par with the U.S. overseas?

The U.S. has excellent doctors and some of the best hospitals, medical schools, and research facilities in the world, but it doesn’t have a monopoly on good health care.

In fact, numerous studies indicate that the U.S. doesn’t have the best health care system in the world—but it does have some of the highest costs. A recent Bloomberg study put the U.S. at #46 out of 48 countries analyzed for health care efficiency…and at #2 for per-capita health-care cost. (Switzerland was #1 for cost—but was #9 for efficiency…) Famously, the World Health Organization ranked the U.S. #37 out of 190 countries in its 2000 report. The findings were so polemic that the WHO hasn’t issued a ranking since then.

So you’ll get better bang for your buck abroad…but what about the quality of care?

Tossing the studies aside, we at International Living hear from expats in all the major countries we cover. They describe doctors who are competent, well-trained, up-to-date in their fields, and often English-speaking.

So yes, it’s very possible to get good health care abroad. Thousands of expats already do.

How much does health care overseas cost?

As a rule of thumb, expect health care services in Latin America to cost 25% to 50% of the U.S. cost. That’s pretty much across the board—for doctor visits, lab tests, hospital stays, medical devices, and the like. In Asia, costs tend to run 10% to 25% of U.S. costs; in Europe it’s up to 70%. (All these figures assume you are paying cash.)

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