Is moving overseas to access cheaper, better healthcare a wise choice?

Is moving overseas to access cheaper, better healthcare a wise choice?

Is moving overseas to access cheaper, better healthcare a wise choice?

For older expats or those with young families, access to good quality, affordable healthcare is a must, but may be almost impossible to find.

Would-be expats from the USA and UK are the most healthcare-conscious groups when retirement or a change of jobs is in the wind. US citizens tend to concentrate on price, having been used to perhaps the most expensive healthcare on the planet, with those from the UK even more price-conscious as their state pensions are worth far less than those in the USA. As regards quality, USA medical professionals win out every time, with the UK’s free National Health Service well past its best and looking to sink still further due to Brexit-induced staff shortages and a serious dearth of government funding.

It’s true to say that healthcare in a good number of favourite expat locations is of high quality with, for example, Spain’s hospitals and practitioners said to be at the top of the list as well as being amazingly less expensive than almost all countries favoured by retirees or working expats. The ability to provide adequate services in the English language is also a major concern, especially for elderly retirees with ongoing health problems. Matching up the three requirements of reasonable cost, professional expertise and near-fluency in English cancels out a good number of Southeast Asian countries happily advertising their medical tourism services!

India is one non-European medical destination which delivers on its promises, as English is widely spoken, many medical professionals have either trained or worked in first-class, first-world facilities in Europe, the UK or the USA, and the country itself is highly geared up for serving medical tourists. Southeast Asian destinations such as Thailand and Singapore, formerly reasonable choices at least as regards price, are now treating the sector as a cash cow for its ultra-wealthy investors, and quality is in decline as a result. In addition, fluent English in Thailand is a no-no due to the country’s failing education system and its increasing unfriendliness towards Westerners.

In the same way that overseas private hospitals are jacking up their charges to take advantage of demand, insurers offering expat private health cover are raking it in and even refusing to pay out when presented with the slightest loophole. At the same time, some private medical facilities are refusing to release patients unless a bill is paid in full, even though the amount may be subject to a challenge. For would-be expats, the best way to avoid healthcare disasters is to choose a destination which has a government-run, affordable healthcare insurance scheme, no matter if the country itself isn’t an all-time favourite.

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