France tops lists of global destinations for retired expat healthcare

by Ray Clancy on July 24, 2014

There is a steady increase in the number of people moving abroad for their retirement and research shows that France, Uruguay and Malaysia have the best healthcare systems for retired expats.

The Annual Global Retirement Index 2014 from International Living, which allocates points according to the climate, cost of living and healthcare, puts France at the top with 97 points.


France is renowned for the quality of its healthcare, according to the report

It says that France is renowned for the quality of its healthcare, is always at the forefront of pioneering research, and has fantastic hospitals and a high life expectancy rate.

Even international medical insurance companies advise that expats choosing to live in France permanently should join the national state health insurance system.

Uruguay comes a close second with 96 points and the report points out that quality healthcare is available to all in Uruguay. There is a free public system that all residents are eligible for.

However, it does advise that the free clinics can be crowded. However, the private health system is well equipped and inexpensive and an estimated 50% of the population sign up for it. Each private healthcare organisation has its own standards for accepting new members, including age.

In third place is Malaysia with 95 points, a country the report says is famed for the quality of its healthcare system. There is a comprehensive range of healthcare services; however, foreigners cannot access the free public healthcare system, though health insurance is extremely low in cost.

Costa Rica comes next with 94 points and is praised for its constant advancement in the public and private sector healthcare systems. Private healthcare is described as affordable and of high quality. Expats becoming legal residents can join the CCSS and get free treatment for virtually everything, all at a small monthly fee.

Mexico and Portugal are tied for 5th place with 93 points. The report says there are an abundance of high quality hospitals and that health insurance in both countries is relatively cheap. The cost of medical care will depend on the condition and the hospital.

Spain and Panama are next with 91 points. The standard of hospitals and clinics in Spain has been compared to the NHS in the UK, according to the report. Private medical cover is advised and is usually set up in advance, but registering with the local authority when you arrive is also crucial as it gives you the same healthcare rights as Spanish residents.

In Panama, the quality of healthcare is high in the cities, but not so much in rural areas. Private health insurance is very cheap, as are prescription drugs.

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