The Top 10 Healthcare Systems in the World 2022
The quality of a country’s healthcare system can be the deciding factor in deciding whether or not to move to a country. Even with the best international health insurance, expats will want the peace of mind that their new country has a robust and advanced healthcare system that can readily deal with any medical treatment that they need.
Recent data has revealed the best healthcare systems in the world. Countries were scored for the healthcare infrastructure, competency of healthcare professionals, cost, quality of medicine and government readiness. Scores were added together and the countries were then ranked. Below we investigate just what makes each healthcare system so good and what expats can expect.
South Korea tops the list of best healthcare systems in the world. It’s been praised for being modern and efficient, with quality, well-equipped medical facilities and highly trained medical professionals.
Generally, treatment in South Korea is affordable and readily available. The number of beds per 1000 people is 10, which is well above the OECD countries’ average of 5.
South Korea provides universal healthcare but much healthcare is privately funded. Not all treatment is covered by South Korea’s universal healthcare scheme. Some procedures, such as those related to chronic illnesses such as cancer, won’t be covered and can be more expensive. This is where expats should ensure they’re covered with comprehensive private healthcare insurance.
Taiwan is second in the best healthcare systems in the world. Healthcare here is affordable and the healthcare professionals are highly skilled. Both private and public healthcare facilities are of high quality.
Public health insurance in Taiwan is managed by the Government through a National Health Insurance system. Unlike in the UK, this is not free at the point of access. Instead, people will have to pay around 20%-30% of the cost and reclaim it back later. Expats are required to join the scheme after they have lived in the country for more than 4 months.
Whilst public healthcare facilities deliver top-class treatment, there can be long wait times due to the number of people accessing healthcare. Many expats choose to use the private healthcare system instead, covering the cost with international medical insurance.
Denmark is known for its high standard of living, which includes a quality healthcare system. It comes in third on this list of the best healthcare systems, thanks to its modern and extensive healthcare provision. Residents have access to free public healthcare, as long as they hold CPR (Central Person Register) number and a health insurance card (known as a yellow card).
For specialist, non-emergency medical treatment, a referral must be gained from a person’s GP. Denmark does have strict regulations around medication, so expats might find that a prescription is required for medicine that they would usually be able to get over the counter at home. There are plenty of pharmacies around Denmark, with many open 24 hours.
Austria is fourth on the list of the best healthcare systems in the world. It has a two-tier healthcare system, with basic publicly-funded medical care provided to nearly all and private healthcare available for those that want better quality or faster access. Austria has a higher doctor-to-patient ratio than the average in Europe, giving residents more choice and lower waiting times than other countries.
Basic public healthcare includes treatment in well-equipped hospitals, basic dental care, medication and certain specialist consultations. Whilst public healthcare is of great quality, many choose to also utilise private healthcare, for added benefits such as smaller wards and easier access to medical professionals.
Japan has the fifth best healthcare system in the world. People in Japan have the longest life expectancy in the world, and that is partly due to the quality of the healthcare provision. There are four times the number of MRI scanners and six times the number of CT scanners compared with the average numbers in Europe. On average, a person in Japan will visit the doctor 13 times in a year, which is more than double the average for OECD countries.
There are two healthcare schemes in Japan – one to cover workers and one to cover the rest of the population. It’s compulsory for expats who have a visa for over three months to be registered on one of the public health insurance schemes. Whilst public healthcare in Japan is of such a high standard, many choose private healthcare for the extra benefits it can provide.
Australia is ranked sixth on the best healthcare systems in the world. It has one of the highest life expectancies in the world and provides a combination or public and private healthcare. Treatment is usually easily accessible and affordable.
The public healthcare system, Medicare, is supported by the Government and covers treatment in public hospitals and all or part of the cost of a consultation with a doctor. Not all care is covered by Medicare, so it’s recommended that expats get private healthcare insurance. This can be particularly beneficial to those in rural areas where there is less choice for healthcare. In addition to this, expats who are applying for a working visa will need to provide proof they are covered with a certain level of private medical insurance to qualify.
France is seventh in the rankings for the best healthcare system in the world. It combines private and public provisions, resulting in a high standard healthcare provision that’s easily accessible by all. France benefits from a high number of doctors and hospital beds, with short waiting times for treatments and consultations.
Basic healthcare is covered by the public health insurance system to those who qualify, including workers and retirees. The majority of medical fees will be covered by the public system and most people will use private healthcare insurance to cover the rest. For those with chronic illnesses, the government will cover the full medical bill.
Spain is number eight on the best healthcare systems in the world, combining a mix of private and public facilities. It has been noted as being the most efficient health system in Europe.
Healthcare provision can differ between the country’s 17 regions, as each area will be responsible for the delivery of healthcare within its own jurisdiction. Hospitals across the country are generally well equipped but Spain has suffered from staff shortages, which has contributed to longer wait times. Expats who wish to avoid the longer wait will usually opt for private medical insurance, giving them access to the many private healthcare facilities across the country.
Belgium comes ninth on the list of best healthcare systems in the world. The system consists of three parts – publicly funded healthcare, private healthcare, and university and semi-private institutions. The healthcare system is seen to be reputable and consistent, providing a high standard of care across the board.
Everyone working in Belgium has to contribute to the national health insurance scheme. Some expats may qualify for non-resident tax status, meaning they will be exempt from paying to the system. Instead, they may choose to be covered by private health insurance.
The UK has the tenth best healthcare system in the world. The different countries of the UK – England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – will have their own systems of healthcare but they are all publicly funded.
Medical facilities across the UK are generally of a high standard and medical staff are well-trained and knowledgeable. Palliative care in the UK has been ranked as the best in the world. Most medicines are readily available and there are plenty of pharmacies. However, the UK healthcare system does suffer from long wait times, so many people opt for private medical insurance to avoid these.
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