Breaking down the cost of healthcare in different countries

Ever wonder where illness or injury abroad may set you back the most? Find out how much expats can expect to pay for various medical procedures in different countries. Hint: prices aren’t all the same.

Breaking down the cost of healthcare in different countries
Photo: Rawpixel/Depositphotos

According to a recent UN report, the number of international migrants has grown rapidly in recent years, peaking at 258 million in 2017.

Some of those people have no choice but to leave their homeland behind. Others may choose to move to a new country in search of someplace more in line with their own political beliefs. Love, too, can inspire people to uproot their lives and settle abroad.

More businesses than ever are sending employees abroad, with a full 98 percent of employers view a globally mobile workforce as important to achieving their objectives, according to a 2017 study conducted by international health insurance provider AXA.

Don’t get landed with huge healthcare charges. Find out more about AXA’s International Health Plans

If you’re moving abroad, regardless of the reason, you should get acquainted with the various costs of healthcare in your new country. Costs can vary greatly, and the last thing you want is an enormous and unexpected bill.

Perhaps one of the best ways to help avoid unpleasant and costly healthcare surprises is by taking out global health insurance. AXA offers several policies which cover treatment for new medical conditions that arise after you join. Find out more about each level of cover here.

Cost of healthcare in popular expat countries

In its most recent comparative price report, released in 2016*, the International Federation of Health Plans collected data from its 80 members in 25 countries to paint a picture of various healthcare costs.

The report documents the average price tag for selected prescription drugs as well as costs of several common medical procedures. And it may come as a surprise just how much the figures differ between the countries.

For example, a colonoscopy, a common procedure to evaluate the inside of the colon, was by far the priciest in the UK, averaging at $3,059. Compare that cost to Spain, where the procedure is a much more reasonable $589, or Australia where it comes in at just $372.

Graph: AXA

The UK, too, was the most expensive country among those surveyed for patients to get an abdominal CT scan, with the average cost weighing in at $860. The procedure was by far cheapest in Spain, where it costs less than 10 percent of the UK sum ($85).

Switzerland, which regularly tops the list of the world’s most expensive countries to visit, was, in fact, the cheapest surveyed for cardiac catheterisations which cost $181, compared to $3,196 in New Zealand and $4,406 in the UK.

Take out an international healthcare policy with AXA

When it comes to costs associated with childbirth, the study found that the US is by far the most expensive country in which to give birth, costing $10,808 for a natural delivery, or $16,106 for a C-Section. At the other end of the spectrum was South Africa, where it costs just $1,271 to deliver a baby naturally or $2,192 for a caesarean.

The US is also the most expensive country for both hip and knee replacements costing $29,067 and $28,184 respectively. Compare this with Spain, where a hip replacement costs $6,757, or South Africa where a knee replacement averages $7,795.

And if you’re planning to have a bypass surgery at any point soon, stick to Spain where it will cost $14,579 and stay clear of the States where you’ll get hit with a bill for $78,318.

Graph: AXA

When it comes to everyday accidents, treating a broken ankle can cost a crippling $8,305 in Hong Kong. If you’re prone to a tumble, you should consider moving to Italy where the treatment is less than half that ($3,790) or Canada where it’s a more reasonable $2,000.

If you find yourself in need of a hospital bed, spending the day in a US hospital can cost $5,220 while an overnight stay in an Italian hospital is much less at $661.

Now that you have a better idea of the potentially high costs of healthcare around the world, make sure you’re protected wherever you are. Find out more about AXA’s international healthcare policies and don’t find yourself lumbered with a huge bill when what you really need is some rest and relaxation.

* REFERENCE: International Federation of Health Plans, 2015 Comparative Price Report, ‘Variation in Medical and Hospital Prices by Country’

Presented by AXA.

AXA Global Healthcare (EU) Limited. Registered in Ireland number 630468. Registered Office: Wolfe Tone House, Wolfe Tone Street, Dublin 1. AXA Global Healthcare (EU) Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

AXA Global Healthcare (UK) Limited. Registered in England (No. 03039521). Registered Office: 20 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0BG, United Kingdom. AXA Global Healthcare (UK) Limited is authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.

For members


EXPLAINED: Why you need ‘legal protection insurance’ in Switzerland

Swiss insurance companies offer a variety of services, but the one covering legal disputes is among the most popular ones. This is what you should know about it.

EXPLAINED: Why you need 'legal protection insurance' in Switzerland
Law and order: Legal insurance may make it easier. Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

The Swiss like to be prepared for all kinds of disasters — both real and imaginary.

This is where insurance comes in.

Whether it’s a policy that covers damages inflicted on cars by weasels, or insurance for theft of sleds and skis placed outside a mountain restaurant, people here don’t like to leave anything to chance.

One of the most popular optional coverages — as opposed the health insurance, which is compulsory — is legal protection insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherungen in German, protection juridique in French, and protezione giuridica in Italian).

What is it and what does it cover?

Simply put, it covers attorney and other associated fees if you undertake court action against someone, are sued, or simply need legal advice.

There are two different types of legal protection insurance — one specifically for traffic accidents and the other for all other matters. Sometimes they are combined.

Typically, this insurance covers costs of legal representation associated with contract disputes, employment, loans and debts, healthcare, housing, retail purchases, and travel.

Photo by Rodnae Productions from Pexels

Some carriers also insure cases related to marital law and inheritance.

Most will not cover attorney fees for criminal cases where you are the perpetrator, or financial disputes related to asset management, banking and investment.

Also excluded is legal action related to political or religious activism.

Can you choose your own lawyer or will you have one assigned to you by the insurance company?

Typically, an insurer has a roster of approved attorneys with whom it works. Some allow the client to choose from the list, while  others select one for you.

If your own lawyer is part of your insurer’s roster, you can request he or she represents you, but it is not guaranteed.

How much does this insurance cost?

Fees vary depending on what coverage you need (traffic accidents, general, or combined), whether they have deductibles, and how high they are.

You can compare the premiums by using this link.

Do you actually need this coverage?

As is the case with any optional insurance, you don’t need it until you do.

Generally speaking, and according to online consumer comparison site, “if you require legal consultation at least once every two years, getting personal legal insurance often makes financial sense. Just the legal consultation benefits which you get with some insurance policies can make up for the cost of premiums”.

READ MORE: How much does health insurance cost in Switzerland?