Medical expenses vary greatly from one country to another and can be particularly costly in some destinations for travelers and expatriates. Here is an overview of the most expensive countries in terms of healthcare.
The United States: the world's highest medical expenses
The United States has the most expensive healthcare system of any country. A medical consultation with a general practitioner costs, on average, $190 or around €170. A stay in hospital can result in bills amounting to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. For example, an appendectomy performed in the United States will cost an average of $33,000, or around €29,000, compared with only €600 in France. So, to avoid having to pay such astronomical amounts, it’s essential to take out international health insurance before starting your trip.
Switzerland: the 2nd most expensive country in the world in terms of healthcare
Switzerland is the country with the second-highest medical expenses. Although the quality of care is excellent in both the public and private sectors, it comes at a very high cost. According to the OECD, in 2019 average medical expenditure per inhabitant was €6,455. As a non-resident, a 20-minute consultation with a general practitioner will cost between CHF 100 and CHF 200 (€90 to €185). This is a standard basic charge and the consultation is then billed for each additional 5-minute period. The costs are so high that some residents even choose to cross the border to seek treatment in France.
The most expensive countries in Europe
After Switzerland, the European countries with the highest healthcare costs are Norway and Germany. Health-related expenditure averaged almost €6,000 per inhabitant in 2019. In Germany, a consultation with a general practitioner costs around €75 for non-residents. Other European countries with the most expensive healthcare systems include Sweden, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Iceland and Ireland.
Canada is one of the most expensive countries in the world when it comes to healthcare, and medical expenses can be extremely high for tourists and expatriates. A consultation with a general practitioner usually costs more than €100, and between €1,000 and €2,000 per day for hospitalization. What’s more, you have to show a health insurance card to be admitted to a hospital or clinic. It’s therefore essential to take out comprehensive international insurance, including repatriation assistance, before traveling, whether you’re going for a few days' vacation, on a working holiday program or as an expatriate.
Australia provides high quality medical care and universal health coverage (Medicare) for all citizens and some permanent residents. However, as a traveler or an expatriate, you’ll need to be sure to have the right international health insurance for your trip (working holiday, tourism, expatriation, etc.) so that you can benefit from a broad level of coverage and repatriation assistance. This is because local medical expenses can be particularly high (approximately €70 for a 15-minute consultation with a general practitioner).
The most expensive countries in Asia in terms of healthcare
In some Asian countries, medical care can be very costly. This is the case in Singapore, which has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, but also one of the most expensive. For example, a consultation with an ophthalmologist will be billed at between €50 and €200. In Hong Kong, a specialist's fee may be as high as HKD 735, or around €80. Although access to public hospitals is fairly affordable, waiting times are often very long. In a private hospital, the costs will be much higher. You should also be aware that dental treatment is particularly expensive (between €50 and €100 for a simple scaling), as there are not many dentists in the city-state.
Brazil: one of the most expensive countries in Latin America
Brazil is one of the most expensive countries in Latin America for medical care. Health services are of very good quality, and costs vary greatly from one city to another. In Brasilia, for example, it will cost between BRL 120 (€20) and BRL 500 (€80) for a medical consultation with a general practitioner.
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