It’s no secret that your healthcare needs change as you get older. Although it’s understandable that medical concerns preoccupy many people in their golden years, they shouldn’t get in the way of you enjoying your retirement.
If you plan to retire overseas, picking a nation with exceptional healthcare could make a big difference to the quality of life you’re able to enjoy.
So which countries should you look to retire to if healthcare is your main priority? Well, the verdict for which nation offers the best healthcare varies depending on which data you look at, so we’ve put together a list of some of the nations which have topped several reports for the quality of their health systems.
The Netherlands was ranked top out of 37 countries for healthcare in the 2014 Euro Health Consumer Index.
Everyone living or working in the Netherlands is required by law to take out a standard healthcare policy to ensure their medical needs are covered. The cover provided by this standard package, which is universal regardless of which provider you choose, is decided by the government.
One of the advantages of the Netherlands’ care system is that, just as you are obliged to take out a policy, insurers are obliged to accept you for a standard package. Everyone pays the same premium, so you won’t be charged extra for being a pensioner or for having a pre-existing condition.
Even if your current health problems are caused by an unhealthy or reckless lifestyle, you cannot be refused a standard package.
The system is not that different to one where you are taxed in order to pay for a free health service. You also have the option of paying extra for a more comprehensive package, covering you for extra treatments and services you may need. This way, the amount you pay and the care you receive varies depending upon how much you want to spend.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), France is the best country for healthcare, which is handy considering how popular it is with expats. As part of the European Economic Area (EEA) retirees from other nations within the area are exempt from paying compulsory social security payments which contribute to your healthcare subsidy.
This means you only have to take out insurance if you need to cover the excess on treatments and doctors or hospital visits. The French healthcare system covers between 35-100% of your medical costs, so if you think you will be needing a lot of care it makes sense to take out voluntary insurance to keep you covered.
If you have a major or long-term illness, you may find that the French healthcare system covers the associated costs of seeking treatment and support entirely, as long as the condition is listed on the affections de longue durée.
If you are married, or part of a civil partnership, your partner may be classified as your dependent and is therefore able to benefit from the same healthcare set-up as you, even if they are younger than retirement age or have their own source of income.
Many doctors and medical staff in Uruguay are trained in Europe, before returning to South America and what many considered to be one of the world’s best healthcare systems. Many healthcare professionals only speak Spanish, however, so you might want to consider learning a second language.
Uruguay has a system known as a ‘mutualista’, which is where you pay a set monthly fee to a hospital and then small additional payments when you visit a doctor or have tests carried out. It costs around £130 per month, but you could take out a private policy instead if you find that you have conditions a hospital won’t accept, or want more coverage.
According to David Hammond, writing for International Living, healthcare in Uruguay is much cheaper than in the United States. ‘I had knee surgery just over a year ago. I paid $200 for a CT scan, a $7 co-pay for each doctor visit, and a $7 co-pay for each physical therapy session afterwards. Everything else was covered by my regular $185-a-month health-care plan.’ After his regular monthly payments for healthcare, the whole process cost David around £280.
Prescription medication costs are significantly lower than other parts of the world, so regular medicine users could find themselves making large savings.
According to the Bloomberg Health Rankings, Singapore comes top out of 40 countries with a health grade of 89.45%. Singapore has 21 organisations which are Joint Commission Accredited (JCI), which is considered the gold standard for international medical care. The city-state is home to around a third of all the JCI accredited institutions in Asia.
Singapore is not a cheap place to retire to, ranking highly on the Cost of Living index. You’ll also need to get your own health insurance because the Singapore healthcare system won’t fund your treatment or visits. In terms of spending the least of medical care, Singapore certainly isn’t the best choice on this list.
It’s worth including though because of the quality of healthcare on offer. Singapore is considered one of the world’s leading medical centres, renowned for its high standards, research and cutting edge procedures. Price-wise it’s on the premium end of the scale, but you’ll get premium care for your investment.
Many people choose to make the most of their retirement by seeking out healthier climes. Those with chronic conditions often find that other countries can better serve than their current country of residence. Even when you have to pay for treatment, the lower prices abroad can make a lot of advanced treatments available to you that you would struggle to afford at home.
Choosing where to retire is a big decision but if you decide to settle in a country with great healthcare, you may find that you enjoy greater peace of mind.
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