4 Countries with the Best Health Care at Affordable Cost
One of the main concerns of any person these days is quality healthcare at affordable cost. Is it possible to get medical treatment as good as what's available in the U.S. and Canada at a lower cost? Measuring the quality of healthcare is difficult, and it's hard to put a number on it. We can, however, put a number on the price of medical procedures.
In these 4 countries you will find quality healthcare at affordable cost
Malaysia: Medical tourism is booming
A stronger U.S. dollar, cheaper air travel, mounting healthcare costs in Western countries and long waiting lists, have all contributed to the Malaysian medical tourism boom in the past decade. Medical tourists arriving in Malaysia have increased on average by 100% in the last five years.
George Town and Kuala Lumpur are the main two medical centers in Malaysia, and both cities are serviced by a multitude of international airlines from around the world.
Malaysia has some of the best-trained doctors in Asia–and the majority of them were trained in the U.S., Australia, or the UK. All of them speak English too.
Western accreditation is also a vital component for confidence in undergoing foreign medical treatments. Numerous hospitals in Penang and Kuala Lumpur are among Southeast Asia's first recipients of the United States' prestigious Joint Commission International (JCI) certification. Seen as the gold standard for healthcare service providers around the world, Malaysia has no less than eight JCI-accredited hospitals.
The most popular areas of treatment across the board in Malaysia include cosmetic surgery, dental work, and dermatology.
Other considerations to take into account are that there is little to no waiting time when you arrive. It's as simple as registering at the hospital of your choice and then waiting for that particular specialist to see you. You also don't need to be referred to that particular specialist by a General Practitioner.
Costa Rica: Low-cost, high-quality healthcare
More than 40,000 Americans travel each year to Costa Rica to seek medical and dental treatment. These "medical tourists" have discovered that this little Central American country has high quality healthcare available at a very low cost.
Expats who live in Costa Rica are able to take advantage of this benefit every day of the year, paying a fraction of what they did back home for doctor's visits, surgeries, prescriptions, and any other care they need.
There are two medical systems in Costa Rica, with expats allowed to access both.
First is the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, known as Caja for short. This is universal healthcare, provided and managed by the government. It's available to citizens and legal residents, including foreigners with the pensioned visa. In this system you need to pay a monthly fee and all your care including doctor’s visits (including specialists), diagnostic testing, prescriptions, surgeries are covered. And there are no exclusions for age or pre-existing conditions. Most expats say the Caja provides good care, although there can be issues with wait times for doctor's visits and non-emergency procedures. The system has an emphasis on preventative care.
There is also an extensive private medical system in Costa Rica, with doctors, clinics, and hospitals throughout the country. You can pay cash to see private providers, but it's still cheap.
You can also use insurance, either international policies or those provided by Costa Rican companies. Most private hospitals have international patient departments to help you arrange financial matters.
Colombia: Where health is valued
Healthcare in Colombia is both high quality and affordable. The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks Colombia's healthcare system as number 22 out of the 191 countries they review. That is better than Canada, which ranks number 30, and the U.S., which ranks number 37. There are many excellent hospitals and clinics located throughout Colombia that provide both general and specialized medical services. Half of the top 43 hospitals in Latin America are in Colombia. The larger cities of Bogota, Medellin, and Bucaramanga have hospitals which have received the Joint Commission International accreditation.
Hospitals in the large and medium-sized cities have either English speaking staff, or a certified translation department. Any expat not over the age of 60 with a national ID card can apply for the government health insurance.
If you decide to pay-as-you-go and not get health insurance, that can be done easily too. Prices for procedures, office visits, and medications are much lower than in the U.S. For example, an hour-long consultation with a specialist costs about $50.
Mexico: High quality healthcare at a fraction of the U.S. cost
Thousands of Americans visit Mexico each year for medical treatment and dental care. It's no wonder. The care is high quality and the cost is a fraction of what you might pay in the U.S.
The facilities, even in medium-sized cities, are top notch. And physicians have usually received at least some training in the U.S., Canada, or Europe. If not medical school, they receive ongoing training abroad. All the latest technology, techniques, and prescriptions are available in Mexico. And having major surgery or treatment for serious medical conditions is not a problem.
As an expat you'll also enjoy access to this top medical care, of course. Overall, you can expect to pay about half—or less—of what you would in the U.S. That goes for prescription drugs as well.
As a legal resident, you'll have access to two systems.
The government-run system operates clinics and hospitals throughout the country and most expats say it offers good basic care at a low price—with costs running to just a few hundred dollars per year.
Many expats also use private healthcare, for which you can pay cash or use insurance. It is much cheaper than the U.S.