Healthcare and Health Insurance in the United States is a huge headache that can rightfully cause you a lot of distress. We know people who work jobs they hate or even delay retirement simply because they need health insurance. It doesn’t have to be that way!
Before we moved to Ecuador, JP had two surgeries on his back that ended up costing almost $1,000,000. After that, our health insurance premiums skyrocketed. It’s a familiar story, but we found a happy ending, going outside the States for our healthcare needs.
We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 countries that have better health care at a fraction of the cost. Now you can plan your next medical procedure along with the trip of a lifetime!
What is Medical Tourism?
The concept of medical tourism may sound a little out there, but it’s becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason! In many of these locations, you can pay for a month long medical tourism trip and still spend less than you would to get the same procedure in the United States.
Medical tourism companies can help you get connected with doctors and ensure you have everything you need, including the proper visas. Another option is to apply for permanent residency, allowing you to stay there and pay a lot less for your healthcare. Global health insurance is also available, and if you exclude the United States from the list of places you get treatment, it can be extremely affordable.
Let’s jump in and look at our favorite places to get medical care!
France is known for its high quality – but low cost – healthcare. Every year, CEO world puts out a ranking of the top healthcare systems in the world, and this year France ranked number seven!
There is even a specific healthcare system for foreigners called Protection Universelle Maladie (PUMA). It allows access to state healthcare after only three months of residence. If staying in France for three months isn’t quite what you’re looking for, you can also turn towards private or global health insurance to help cover the costs.
If France sounds like the perfect place to get your medical problems dealt with, you’re not alone. Medical tourism is incredibly popular in the area. You can enjoy all the romance and beauty that is in France while getting the care you need.
If you’ve ever dreamed of living where they filmed spaghetti westerns or where delicious Spanish wine is made, you might want to consider medical tourism in Spain. CEO World ranked Spain number 8 on its list of healthcare systems.
This country features both a public and private healthcare system. If you’re looking to use the public system, you’ll need to contribute income tax and social security, but there are extremely affordable options for private insurance. In fact, some of the prices are as low as what we pay in Ecuador!
Spain is incredibly popular for medical tourists because of its beauty and culture, as well as the long-term options for visas.
8. Czech Republic
Ranked number 14 by CEO World, we love the Czech Republic because of its excellent health care, multiple options for visas, and low cost of living. They are known far and wide for their excellent universal healthcare.
If you’re looking to become a permanent resident in the Czech Republic, you are required to get private health insurance. There are lots of English-speaking practitioners, and medical tourism is popular, so they will be familiar with your situation and know how to deal with it.
One of the unique offerings in the Czech Republic is its spa designed specifically for cancer survivors.
With their state-of-the-art facilities and significantly less expensive procedures, Portugal is very popular among medical tourists. CEO World ranked its healthcare number 22, and treatment there can cost between 50-30% of what it costs in the US.
Public health insurance is available for both citizens and residents, so if you go there as an expat, you’ll have no trouble using their system. It’s almost free, paid for with taxes and social security.
6. South Korea
South Korea was ranked number 1 by CEO World! It’s known for being safe and affordable, as well as having lots of things to do and see while visiting. That, combined with their available one-year medical visa, makes South Korea a very popular destination for medical tourism.
We have heard from lots of friends that it’s a joy to live in South Korea as a foreigner, so this is one destination you won’t want to write off.
An excellent option for medical tourism, Thailand is ranked number 13 by CEO World. Thai hospitals are some of the best in the world, and the procedures cost a mere 10-20% of what you would pay in the US!
Thailand is a popular destination for expats because of its exciting culture and low cost of living, so you may want to consider a longer-term visa. You never know if you might fall in love with the country!
Even though CEO World ranked Malaysia number 34, the only ranking lower than the United States, we’ve done our research and believe that it’s a strong choice for your procedures. While the pandemic hit this healthcare system hard, they are back on track to returning as one of the top healthcare systems in the world.
They’ve been putting a lot of effort into their medical tourism, which isn’t a surprise because their hospitals are top-notch and provide care for as little as 20% of the cost in the United States. Malaysia does have public healthcare that expats can access, but you’ll end up paying higher rates, so private health insurance is a great option – and not too expensive.
You aren’t required to have health insurance in Malaysia at all, so if you want, you can pay out of pocket for procedures.
Argentina is one of the best countries for healthcare in South America. CEO World rated it number 27 out of all the healthcare systems in the world. They have private health insurance that’s extremely affordable and just recently started to include medical marijuana.
The healthcare costs are 60-70% cheaper than those in the States. There’s so much to experience in Argentina over your stay, and with a one-year medical visa available, you’ll have more than enough time to enjoy this country fully.
A long-time favorite of medical tourists from America, Mexico is easy to get into and offers high-quality procedures at a fraction of the cost. Ranked number 29 by CEO World, Mexico’s healthcare system is 3–4 times less expensive than the US.
There are even hospitals all along the border that cater specifically to medical tourists! Many doctors got their training in the US, so they speak fluent English. There are both private and public insurance options, so no matter what, you’ll be able to find an option that works for you.
It should come as no surprise that our favorite place to get healthcare outside the US is Ecuador! Ranked number 25 by CEO World, it came in five better than the States.
Our costs here are so low we’re always shocked when we go to the doctor to get anything done. We have health insurance that covers both of us for only $192 a month (with JP’s pre-existing condition).
We haven’t had any major procedures done since coming to Ecuador, but we know people who have had cancer treatments, shoulder injuries, and heart surgeries that they were very happy with. In general, healthcare will cost a mere 25% of the cost in the States, and many doctors speak English.
You will deal directly with the doctor right away; you won’t have to spend weeks or months just interacting with nurses or admin staff. So many people come here for dental tourism as well, and it is significantly cheaper even with travel.
Healthcare can be such a complicated and stressful thing to deal with. We hope that by making you aware of the options, we’ve opened your eyes to the whole world of possibilities available to you with medical tourism.
Watch Our Video About Medical Tourism
Here are links to the references mentioned in the video:
CEO World Healthcare Rankings (2021)
Allianz Care Global Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance
GeoBlue Global Health Insurance
Bupa Global Health Insurance
The French Social Security System – PUMA
France Medical Tourism
Spain Medical Tourism
Czech Republic Medical Tourism
Czech Republic Medical Spa
Czech Republic Health Insurance
South Korea Medical Tourism
Thailand Medical Tourism
Malaysia Medical Tourism
Argentina Medical Tourism
Mexico Medical Tourism
Ecuador Health Insurance & Healthcare
Ecuador Dental Tourism (Cuenca)
Medical Tourism Country Index
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Hola todos! Welcome to my author bio page! Let's see. Where to begin... I grew up in the country on a lake outside a small Kansas farm town. As soon as I could, I got the hell outta there! Since then, I've lived and/or worked in Kansas City, Washington D.C., Denver, San Francisco, and Ecuador. I started and sold a dotcom, wrote a book about it, started a YouTube channel, and now I write a lot. Amelia and I have embraced the Unconventional Life and we want to help you do it, too!