description-icon

Article

5 min read

What Country Has The Best Healthcare For Expats And Digital Nomads

Worker experience

Author

Gabriele Culot

Published

February 22, 2024

Last Update

June 28, 2024

Table of Contents

Singapore

New Zealand

Canada

South Korea

Switzerland

Germany

Japan

Netherlands

Spain

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Oman

United Kingdom

Make your life on the road easy with Deel

Key takeaways
  1. Denmark has emerged as a popular choice for expats and digital nomads in recent years.
  2. Applying for one of the many Danish visas and finding jobs calls for thorough research and careful planning.
  3. Deel’s step-by-step guide shows you how to effortlessly navigate the Danish visa process and settle into your new home.

With location independence and a life on the road come challenges that are essential to consider and address effectively for the success of your nomadic adventures. These include tax and money management, access to quality food and socialization opportunities, and perhaps most importantly, access to high-quality healthcare and well-being.

When falling ill or getting injured in a foreign nation without employer-provided insurance, out-of-pocket medical expenses can be financially devastating and life-altering. Moreover, healthcare quality is not always equal, even in the same country, so knowing how to access the best financially sustainable support is paramount.

Many countries rank well on lists of best destinations for expats and digital nomads, but when focusing specifically on access and affordability of healthcare, which one rules them all?

Not surprisingly, there is no one answer to such a question, as the issue is complex, and different individuals may value different elements of a healthcare system. Moreover, a healthcare system is often built around the needs of residents, so while the quality of service may be outstanding, its advantages may not be fully accessible to nomads who are just passing by, or their cost might be equally outstandingly high.

In this post, we'll look at a few of the best countries in the world with healthcare systems that accommodate foreigners. These nations strive to provide comprehensive and reasonably priced medical coverage to their foreign inhabitants through both public and private insurance choices.

Looking for more lists?

Singapore

Singapore's healthcare system is often cited as one of the best in the world, distinguished by its efficiency, high-quality healthcare services, and innovative use of technology. Leveraging a mixed financing system, Singapore ensures a universal healthcare system while promoting individual responsibility through mandatory health savings accounts called Medisave. This unique approach has contributed to Singapore consistently achieving impressive health outcomes, including one of the lowest child mortality rates and highest life expectancies in the world.

For expats and digital nomads, Singapore offers an exceptionally appealing environment for medical care. The nation boasts a robust infrastructure of public and private hospitals that provide high-quality medical services. While the public healthcare system is subsidized and offers lower costs, many expats prefer private healthcare due to shorter waiting times and higher comfort and privacy. Expats must have valid health insurance, and it is highly recommended to secure comprehensive private health insurance to cover private medical care costs.

Key points:

  • Exceptional quality of healthcare services
  • Universal healthcare coverage with an emphasis on individual responsibility
  • State-of-the-art medical facilities and technology
  • Comprehensive coverage through mandatory health savings accounts and health insurance
  • Attractive for those seeking high-quality preventive care and medical treatments

Learn more at the Singaporean Ministry of Health

New Zealand

New Zealand's healthcare system is recognized for its effectiveness and efficiency, blending public and private services to ensure broad coverage and high-quality medical care for its residents. Administered by the Ministry of Health, the system is primarily funded through general taxation, providing comprehensive healthcare services that range from primary care to specialized surgeries for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.

New Zealand offers an attractive healthcare environment for expats and digital nomads, though there are pivotal considerations to bear in mind. Most temporary residents, including those on work or student visas, may need to secure private health insurance to cover their healthcare needs, as eligibility for public healthcare depends on visa status and duration of stay. Private health insurance gives access to private healthcare facilities, where treatment waiting times are generally shorter. International workers and visitors are advised to have comprehensive health insurance to cover potential medical needs, including accidents, covered for everyone under the unique Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) scheme.

Key points:

  • High-quality healthcare services with a focus on preventive care
  • Public healthcare is free or subsidized for citizens and most permanent residents, with private insurance recommended for expats
  • An extensive network of capable healthcare professionals and well-equipped medical facilities
  • The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) provides coverage for personal injury from accidents, irrespective of visa status
  • A balanced approach between public and private healthcare sectors for comprehensive coverage

Learn more at New Zealand’s Ministry of Health/Manatū Hauora

Canada

Canada offers one of the best healthcare systems in the world, known for its universal coverage of healthcare expenses. Under the publicly funded system, commonly known as Medicare, all residents have access to necessary healthcare services without out-of-pocket expenses for primary care. Healthcare funding comes from taxation, ensuring that medical services are provided on a prepaid basis. This setup is particularly advantageous for expats and digital nomads who gain resident status, as they become eligible for the same comprehensive health coverage as Canadian citizens, including visits to doctors, hospital stays, and essential medical procedures.

For expats, the most crucial factor is obtaining a provincial health card, which requires a waiting period that varies by province, typically three months. During this interim period, it's advisable to have private health insurance to cover any medical needs. Additionally, although Canada's public healthcare system covers a wide range of services, some aspects, such as dental care and prescription drugs, often require additional private health insurance.

Key points:

  • Universal healthcare coverage for all residents
  • No out-of-pocket expenses for primary care and most medical services
  • Waiting period for provincial health card upon becoming a resident
  • Additional private health insurance is recommended for services not covered by Medicare, like dental care and prescription drugs

Learn more at Health Canada

South Korea

South Korea's healthcare system stands out globally for its high efficiency, advanced healthcare technologies, and exceptional service quality. It operates under a universal health insurance system that covers virtually the entire population, providing a comprehensive range of medical care services from basic preventive care to complex surgical procedures. This system is managed by the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) financed through employers, employees, and the government contributions. The model ensures affordability and accessibility, making South Korea one of the countries with the highest life expectancies and some of the best health outcomes worldwide.

For expats and digital nomads, South Korea offers a particularly appealing healthcare context. All residents, including foreigners living in South Korea for more than six months, are required to enroll in the NHIS, ensuring they receive the same healthcare benefits as Korean citizens. This includes access to high-quality medical care at both public and private healthcare facilities across the country. Additionally, private health insurance is available for those seeking extra coverage or quicker access to certain services and private hospitals.

Key points:

  • Universal health coverage under the NHIS, including for expatriates residing for more than six months
  • High-quality healthcare services with advanced medical technologies
  • Reasonable healthcare costs and efficient services
  • Minimal language barriers in healthcare settings, especially in urban areas
  • Availability of supplementary private health insurance for those seeking additional coverage

Learn more at the South Korean National Health Insurance Service (NHIS)

Switzerland

Switzerland is often regarded as having one of the best healthcare systems in the world, combining high-quality care with remarkable efficiency and innovation. The Swiss system is unique, operating on a compulsory health insurance model that requires everyone living in the country to purchase health insurance from private insurance companies. This ensures universal coverage while maintaining a competitive market among insurers. Due to the system's design, healthcare in Switzerland is characterized by wide accessibility to a range of healthcare services, a high density of healthcare professionals, and excellent health outcomes, including one of the highest life expectancies globally.

Expats and digital nomads will find the Swiss healthcare system particularly appealing. The quality of medical care is exceptionally high across both public and private sectors, with state-of-the-art facilities and multilingual staff available in urban and many rural areas. Insurance premiums can be pricey, but they offer access to some of the best healthcare services in the world. It's important for expats to carefully select their health insurance plans to balance coverage needs with out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles and copayments.

Key points:

  • Universal healthcare coverage through compulsory private health insurance
  • High-quality medical care with access to state-of-the-art facilities
  • Competitive health insurance market offering a variety of plans
  • Strong emphasis on preventive care
  • Excellent health outcomes and high life expectancy

Learn more at the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH)

Germany

Germany boasts one of the most efficient healthcare systems in Europe, offering its residents access to high-quality healthcare services. Rooted in the principle of solidarity, the system ensures that everyone has medical care regardless of their income. The German healthcare system operates on a dual model, consisting of both statutory health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung or GKV) and private health insurance (Private Krankenversicherung or PKV). Approximately 90% of Germany’s population is covered by statutory health insurance, funded by employee and employer contributions, while the rest opt for private insurance, usually due to higher income levels or preference for more extensive coverage.

Expats living in Germany are required to have health insurance, and most will find themselves eligible for the statutory health insurance scheme, which covers a wide range of medical services, including visits to general practitioners and specialists, hospital stays, and prescriptions with modest co-payments. Expats may also choose private health insurance, which can offer advantages such as shorter waiting times for appointments and private hospital rooms. However, it's important to note that once you opt for private insurance, switching back to the public system can be difficult.

Key points:

  • Universal healthcare coverage with a choice between statutory and private insurance
  • High-quality healthcare services with widespread access to specialists and advanced medical treatment
  • Reasonably low out-of-pocket costs for those covered by statutory health insurance
  • Emphasis on preventive care and comprehensive coverage
  • Easy access to English-speaking healthcare professionals in urban areas

Learn more at the German Federal Ministry of Health

Japan

Japan's healthcare system is renowned for contributing to the country's high life expectancy and excellent health outcomes, making it one of the models for the best healthcare in the world. The system is characterized by universal coverage, ensuring all residents, including expats, have access to healthcare services. This is achieved through a combination of public health insurance and a small co-payment by the patient. Health insurance in Japan is mandatory; residents can either join a national health insurance program, typically used by self-employed and unemployed individuals, or an employee health insurance scheme for those employed.

For expats and digital nomads, the Japanese healthcare system is appealing due to its high-quality healthcare services, affordability, and efficiency. After registration with a local municipality, expats must enroll in one of the public health insurance plans, ensuring access to a broad range of healthcare services with relatively low out-of-pocket costs.

Key points:

  • Universal healthcare coverage for residents, including expats
  • Mandatory enrollment in public health insurance
  • High-quality medical care with a focus on preventive care and early intervention
  • Relatively low out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare services

Learn more at the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare

Netherlands

The Netherlands boasts one of the top healthcare systems in the world, characterized by universal coverage, exceptional quality, and high levels of patient satisfaction. Rooted in a compulsory health insurance model, the system requires all residents to purchase basic health insurance from private providers, ensuring everyone has access to comprehensive medical care.

The healthcare system offers numerous advantages for expats and digital nomads living in the Netherlands. First and foremost, mandatory health insurance guarantees access to healthcare services, including general and specialist medical care, hospitalization, and prescription medications. The selection of health insurance providers is vast, allowing individuals to choose coverage that best suits their needs, although everyone is entitled to the same basic package. Additionally, many expats opt for supplementary insurance to cover services not included in the basic package, such as dental care or physiotherapy.

The healthcare quality in the Netherlands is exceptionally high, with a strong emphasis on primary care and preventive measures.

Key points:

  • Universal coverage through compulsory health insurance
  • High quality of healthcare services and excellent patient satisfaction
  • Wide choice of insurance providers with the flexibility to include supplementary coverage
  • Strong emphasis on primary care and preventive measures
  • Advanced healthcare technologies and highly trained medical professionals
  • Equitable system with regulated competition among private insurance companies

Learn more at the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport

Spain

Spain's healthcare system is renowned for its efficiency and high standards, characterized by both public and private sectors. Managed under the Spanish National Health System (SNS), it provides universal healthcare to its citizens and residents, including expatriates who are registered in the social security system. Funded through taxation, the SNS ensures that most healthcare services are free at the point of use, from primary care to specialist procedures. Spain boasts some of the best health outcomes globally, with a high life expectancy and low mortality rates, a testament to the quality and accessibility of its healthcare services.

For expats and digital nomads, the Spanish healthcare system is inviting. To access the public healthcare system, expatriates must contribute to the Spanish social security system either through employment, self-employment or by being dependents of a contributor. Alternatively, expats can also opt for private health insurance. Additionally, Spain's healthcare system accommodates non-Spanish speakers, with many healthcare professionals fluent in English, especially in areas with a high population of international residents.

Key points:

  • Universal healthcare coverage under the SNS, with access to free or highly subsidized services
  • Option for private health insurance with quick access to specialists and private facilities
  • High-quality healthcare services with excellent health outcomes and high life expectancy
  • Wide availability of English-speaking healthcare professionals in expat-populated areas
  • Easy integration into the system for expats contributing to the Social Security system

Learn more at the Spanish [Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs, and Social Welfare](https://www.mscbs.gob.es/en/home.htm](https://www.mscbs.gob.es/en/home.htm)

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The UAE's system is a mix of public and private healthcare services, providing residents and visitors with a wide range of options. Health insurance is mandatory in several emirates, including Dubai and Abu Dhabi, ensuring everyone has access to healthcare services. This mandate has led to a proliferation of insurance providers, that offer numerous plans to cater to different needs and preferences.

Expats and digital nomads considering the UAE as a destination will find the healthcare landscape particularly welcoming, marked by the availability of high-quality medical care housed within state-of-the-art facilities. The government's heavy investment in the healthcare sector is evident in the cutting-edge treatment options and the recruitment of internationally trained healthcare professionals, offering a level of service comparable to that in Western countries. For expats, obtaining health insurance is a prerequisite for residency, with employers typically providing coverage.

The healthcare experience in the UAE is characterized by minimal waiting times, especially in private healthcare facilities, and an emphasis on patient care and comfort. Moreover, the country is making strides in digital health, utilizing technology to streamline appointments, medical records, and even telemedicine services.

Key points:

  • Mandatory health insurance ensures universal access to healthcare services
  • High-quality medical care with state-of-the-art facilities
  • -Internationally trained healthcare professionals providing a high standard of medical services
  • Minimal waiting times for appointments and procedures
  • Rapid advancements in digital health for a seamless healthcare experience

United Arab Emirates (UAE):

Learn more at the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention

Oman

Oman's healthcare system has seen significant strides in development over the past few decades, stemming from its comprehensive healthcare policies and investments in health infrastructure. The sultanate offers public and private healthcare services, aiming to ensure accessibility and quality medical care for all residents. The Ministry of Health in Oman primarily provides healthcare services, focusing on preventive care, primary care, and specialized treatments. Healthcare is funded through government expenditure, which ensures that Omani citizens receive free healthcare services at public facilities.

For expats and digital nomads, understanding the nuances of the Omani healthcare system is key to navigating it effectively. While public healthcare services are available to expatriates, many prefer private health insurance to gain access to private healthcare facilities, which generally offer shorter wait times and a higher standard of comfort. It's mandatory for expatriates working in Oman to have health insurance provided by their employers.

Key points:

  • High standard of healthcare services and facilities
  • Mandatory health insurance for expatriates, typically provided by employers
  • A comprehensive public healthcare system complemented by a growing private sector
  • Focus on preventive care and widespread availability of primary care services
  • Internationally trained healthcare professionals offering quality care

Learn more at the Omani Ministry of Health

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is renowned for its National Health Service (NHS), one of the best examples of a universally accessible, publicly funded healthcare system. The NHS offers comprehensive medical care to residents free at the point of use, covering everything from primary care to specialist treatments and hospital stays. Funded through taxation, the NHS epitomizes the principle of healthcare based on need, not the ability to pay, which ranks it highly among the world's best healthcare systems in terms of both access and quality.

Expats and digital nomads moving to the UK will find this healthcare system particularly attractive. Once they are considered residents and have paid the necessary healthcare surcharge as part of their visa application, they gain access to the NHS services on the same basis as UK citizens. This includes preventive care, emergency services, and long-term treatments. However, some services outside the NHS core offerings, such as dental and optical, might require additional private insurance.

Key points:

  • Universal coverage through the National Health Service (NHS)
  • Comprehensive healthcare is free at the point of use, including hospital stays and specialist consultations
  • A healthcare surcharge is required as part of the visa process for access
  • Additional private health insurance recommended for dental and optical care

United Kingdom (UK):

Learn more at the NHS (National Health Service)

While the list we provided is a great starting point for you to think about your next destination, the countries listed are not the only ones that are renowned for great healthcare systems. Many European countries like France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Belgium, or other countries like Australia and India, often make it on lists similar to ours, so make sure to do your research!

Digital nomad insurance: Safetywing

Many of the examples listed above require residence in the country for full access to the healthcare system, and this could add a layer of complexity for digital nomads, who often move from one country to another. For them, having dedicated health insurance isn't just a necessity—it's a lifeline.

Conventional health insurance plans tied to a specific location can't adequately cover the lifestyle and unique challenges faced by digital nomads, and this is where SafetyWing comes into play, offering a service meticulously tailored to meet their needs. SafetyWing provides global health insurance that ensures continuous coverage no matter where your nomadic lifestyle takes you.

Deel partners with Safetywing to offer the best coverage at a great rate to Deel users.

Make your life on the road easy with Deel

While healthcare is crucial, there are many other factors that are involved in ensuring your experience working from anywhere is truly fulfilling and successful. From tax management to compliance with labor laws and visa requirements, there can be a lot to think about.

Deel offers innovative solutions that significantly streamline the complexities of relocating or living a digital nomad life. From ensuring you have access to your funds, to visa and relocation support, let us take care of the administration so you can focus on exploring the world.

Head over to the blog to learn more about modern approaches to work and a location-independent lifestyle, or check out the full range of Deel products and solutions.

Related resources

deel logo
twitterlinkedin (1)facebookinstagram

How it works

© Copyright 2024. All Rights Reserved.