French health system best for expat retirees

France healthcare retirement

France comes top for healthcare for expat retirees.

The 2014 International Living Global Retirement Index has ranked France as number one in its health care category. The study, which ranks destinations on their suitability for retired expats, praised France’s “affordable and great quality” healthcare.

The benefits highlighted in the report include the fact many doctors and healthcare professionals speak English, especially in major cities. Treatment in public facilities is available to those who pay, or used to pay, into the social security system. Fees for services in the public system are set, with the state paying around 70 percent of the costs. The remainder is paid out-of-pocket or by supplementary health insurance plans. The government may pay 100 percent of the costs related to serious illnesses.

In general, if you visit a doctor you pay the fees directly to them and are then reimbursed by the insurance company. Hospitals work on a direct reimbursement system, whereby patients only pay the portion which isn’t covered.

For non-EU citizens thinking of retiring in France, private health insurance is mandatory. Private insurance bought in France usually covers hospital fees but under some plans patients must pay the cost of doctor consultations themselves. Other plans refund 75 percent of doctor’s fees. The US embassy in France can help expat retirees find an English speaking health insurance provider, advises International Living.

The report, aimed at US expat retirees, places Uruguay second in the healthcare category. Uruguay’s cheap (compared to the US) private care and modern, high-quality facilities make it a good choice for expats.

Malaysia came in third place. A popular medical tourism destination, its modern private facilities and range of insurance options means healthcare needn’t be a drain on your budget. The report noted the majority of dentists are UK or US trained and can speak English, and prescriptions costs are a fraction of what you would pay in the States.

Regardless of where you decide to retire, healthcare provision must be a priority. If you don’t have private medical insurance then ensure you are aware of the costs you will be required to pay out of pocket.