International Medical Cost Comparisons

International Medical Cost Comparisons

One subject that older expats probably don't like to think about is the cost of medical treatment. Medical costs tend to be cheaper in developing countries, but not all are equal, nor are expats always treated equitably.

Government sponsored health and medical treatments do tend to temper the costs, but if someone is living abroad, getting to one's home country for treatment can be more expensive than paying in their adopted land.

Health insurance is very expensive at 60 and often disappears altogether at 70. At that point, self insurance may be your only option. Nest-eggs usually serve as the final option.

So if you need a medical procedure, shopping it around may save some of those precious funds. If you really do need a hip replacement, Argentina seems to be the cheapest option. Questions include: how good are the doctors and hospitals?

Do You Trust Local Doctors?

While it may not make dollars and sense to spend money on travel and accommodation if you can get adequate treatment locally, what if you can't trust local doctors and medical facilities? Then you need to evaluate the total package of travel and medical costs and medications.

Other Options

Many developing countries, especially in the Asian region, Central and South America have been developing a segment of their health care industry to medical tourism. We will be exploring some of those destinations for subsequent reports.

Country ARG AUS CAN CHL FRA NDL NZL ESP ZAF CHE GBR USA
Scanning & Imaging
Angiogram     35 378 264     125 235 218   914
CT Scan, Abdomen 103   124 437 183     118     175 630
CT Scan, Head 82   124 192 183 252 310 119 300 328   566
CT Scan, Pelvis 66   124 166 183 257 349 117 386 328   567
MRI 118     502 363   554 230 1,072 928 335 1,121
Cost Hospital/Day 429 1,472   964 853 731 979 476 665     4,287
Total Costs1
Appendectomy 963 5,467   4,221 4,463 4,498 5,392 2,245 3,381 4,782 3,408 13,851
Normal Delivery 1,188 6,846   2,292 3,541 2,669 2,386 2,265 2,035 4,039 2,641 9,775
C-Section 1,541 10,566   3,378 6,441 5,328 4,717 3,079 3,449 5,186 4,435 15,041
Cataract Surgery 564     2,829 1,938 1534 2,079 1,867 2,205 2,566 1,139 3,738
Knee Replacement 3,192 22,421         14,849 7,827 13,466 11,954 7,833 25,637
Hip Replacement 3,365 27,810   13,409 10,927 11,187 14,390 7,783 15,403 9,574 11,889 40,346
Bypass Surgery 8,882 43,230   12,401 22,844 14,061 26,432 17,437 37,044 17,729 14,177 73,420
Angioplasty 2,851 8,911     7,564 6,332 7,010 9,446 13,475 5,295 14,366 28,182
Physician Visit 10   30 38 30     11 25     95
Drugs
Celebrex 2 59   53   126     163 88 140 116 162
Vytorin3 31           55 80   70 68 123
Cymbalta4 84   113   47     70 57 77 48 176
Nasonex5 22   29   17     21 23 39 12 108
Lipitor6 39       48   6 13 11   43 124
Nexium7 21     41 30 72   18 37 71 32 202
NOTES:
 • All prices are converted to USD
1 Doctors' fees and Hospital fees
2 Celebrex is commonly prescribed for pain
3 Vitorin is commonly prescribed for high cholesterol
4 Cymbalta is commonly prescribed for anxiety, depression & fibromyalgia
5 Nasonex is commonly prescribed for nasal allergies
6 Liptor is commonly prescribed for high cholesterol
7 Nexium is commonly prescribed for acid reflux

Argentina: Prices are a weighted average from the public system, the social security system, and a private health plan.
Australia: Prices are private sector prices paid by a private health plan.
Canada: Prices are public sector prices for the province of Nova Scotia.
Chile: Prices are private sector prices paid by a private health plan.
France:Prices are a blend of public and private system prices.
Netherlands: Prices are private sector prices paid by a private health plan, and incorporate the new DRG system implemented in 2012.
New Zealand: Prices are public sector prices based on the fee schedule for one large District Health Board, as well as other national tariff pricing lists.
South Africa: Prices are private sector prices paid by a private health plan.
Spain: Prices are private sector prices paid by a private health plan.
Switzerland: Prices are public sector prices.
Source of Information