• Arthur Salzer


For many of us, regardless of where we live or whether we are at home or travelling abroad, health care is one of our primary considerations. It is important to know, while we are travelling that medical assistance is not far away if we need immediate attention.

According to International Living .com, their annual Global Retirement Index reports that France, Uruguay and Malaysia provide the best and most affordable health care in the world. The Health Care category in the Index considers the cost and quality of care. Other factors are the number of people per doctor, the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people, the percentage of the population with access to safe water, the infant mortality rate, life expectancy, and public-health expenditure as a percentage of a country’s GDP.

France is first in the health care category and has the number one health care system in the world. Despite their meat-and cream-rich diet augmented by alcohol and cigarettes, the French have been living much longer in recent years. Life expectancy now averages 85 for women and 78 for men.

Uruguay places second in the health care category. Uruguay has a variety of health care options available that include a public health care system for people who cannot afford to pay for private health care, a number of private health insurance options, and the most popular option - a hospital plan called a “mutualista.”. The cost is a fraction of what people pay for private coverage in the U.S. Malaysia comes in third in the 2014 Retirement Index. Malaysia has gained fame as a medical tourism destination because its health care is among the world’s best—and cheapest.Medical expertise here is equal to, or better than, that in most Western countries.

Fourth position goes to Costa Rica for its excellent and affordable health care. This is largely the result of government investment in the health sector, in addition to an atmosphere of political stability. By almost any standard, Costa Rica has some of the best health care in Latin America. The country’s public and private health systems are constantly being upgraded with investments in new hospitals, new equipment, and improvements in staff training. There is a plethora of national insurers, with no one company being preferred.

Mexico is fifth for 2014. Given the galloping rise in health care costs worldwide, Mexico’s affordable and top-notch health care is a huge benefit to living there. Health care in Mexico costs a quarter to a half of what you would pay in the U.S. Medical insurance with Mexico’s national health care service costs less than $300 a year. Private insurance will cost more, depending on age and pre-existing conditions—but still a fraction of what one would pay in the U.S. for similar coverage.

When you start to plan your next trip, or if you are contemplating where you want to spend the winter months abroad, France, Uruguay, Malaysia, Costa Rica and Mexico should provide you with excellent care should you require it. If in doubt as to whether you should travel it’s always best to consult your Physician first.

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