If you’re looking for affordable health care, consider seeking medical care outside the U.S.
As costs continue to climb, retirees increasingly are looking abroad for less expensive coverage.
Below is the list of countries with free healthcare in which you find affordable health care, according to InternationalLiving.com. Just as in the U.S., metropolitan areas in these countries will typically provide a greater quality of care than rural ones, says International Living senior editor and author Dan Prescher, and often matches or beats care in the U.S.
Malaysia’s most common areas of treatment are cosmetic surgery, dental work, and dermatology, attracting 1 million pharmaceutical tourists worldwide in 2016, according to International Living.
George Town and Kuala Lumpur are the primary medical centers. Most Malaysian doctors were instructed in the U.S., U.K., Austraila and all are English-speaking, a significant perk for ex-pats. Malaysia has about 11 hospitals with Joint Commission International (JCI) certification, considered the gold standard for healthcare providers worldwide.
2. Costa Rica
Costa Rica is no. 2 in the list of countries with free healthcare. There are two medical systems in Costa Rica: a government-run one and the private health care system, with most people preferring to combine both.
Caja is Costa Rica’s extensive health care system, which is available for both citizens and legal residents. As a Caja user, you pay an income-based monthly fee that includes the applicant and a dependent spouse. The fee is about $75 to $150, according to International Living, and provides complete coverage, including doctor and specialist visits, diagnostic testing and medicines. However, a major drawback is long waiting times for specific surgeries, since Caja covers a majority of the population.
The private medical system is another option. A doctor’s visit there is $50, ultrasounds run $75, and major surgeries are usually half to a quarter of prices in the U.S., according to International Living.
The World Health Organization ranks Colombia’s healthcare system 22nd worldwide, which is distinguished than both Canada (ranked 30th) and the U.S. (ranked 37th).
Anyone under age 60 with a national ID card, even those with pre-existing ailments, can apply for government health insurance. Co-pays average $3. Many ex-pat retirees pay a premium of $70 to $85 for a couple, according to International Living.
Private health insurance can also be added. Premiums vary yet are still are significantly cheaper than what a couple would pay in the U.S.
Mexico is known for providing best health care at a fraction of U.S. costs. Expats can expect to pay half or less for medical expenses and medicine drugs.
Legal Mexican citizens have access to two health care systems: government-run public health or private.
The government-run systems offer basic care with costs running as little as a few hundred dollars per year. Many expats also use private healthcare where you can pay with cash or use insurance. An official visit to the doctor can run $30 to $40.
Big clinics and hospitals in Panama are often affiliated with U.S. counterparts such as the John Hopkins Medicine International and Cleveland Clinic.
While most expats tend to pay out-of-pocket, International Living says it’s best to have private insurance still. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Panama offers coverage for as little as $80 per month for those under age 65.
Older expats or those with pre-existing diseases may opt for a hospital membership that costs anywhere between $90 and $175 per month, according to International Living. Unlike many insurance plans, some hospitals may offer inadequate coverage for pre-existing conditions after a long waiting period.