One of the more undisclosed yet vital factors when considering a place to live among expats or migrant workers is the country’s healthcare system. And as Asia and the Pacific rises to join other progressive Western countries in terms of economic growth and social enterprise, it’s quite important to consider the factors that make up for a good country to move into not just for work but also for its liveability and costs.
ALSO READ: Mobile App Allows Patients to Set Healthcare Appointments with Doctors
Travelling to other countries is one thing, but to actually live in them is an entirely different story. It is for this reason that foreign workers and expats need to look into living factors such as a country’s healthcare system to determine whether it’s a good place to stay for the long term.
Here are the Top 5 Healthcare Systems in Asia Pacific
In this post, we will briefly list down the best healthcare systems in Asia and the Pacific, as reported by ValueChampion.
This is important because with the increasing healthcare costs, health coverage gaps and low-quality healthcare can threaten not just the overall productivity of society, but also the general well-being of individuals. However, as countries develop and economies grow stronger, governments are spending more money to increase healthcare quality and affordability for their citizens.
That being said, let us see which countries in the Asia and the Pacific are leading the way in providing high quality and affordable healthcare for its citizens:
Japan’s greying population says much more than its labour situation, but even more about its healthcare system. Since citizens enjoy long lives and have access to healthcare that provides quality treatment for common health conditions, Japan leads the pack because the government places top priority to quality healthcare.
Japan ranked 2nd based on the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s Healthcare Access and Quality Index (94.1), but its citizens live 13.6 years longer than the global average, suggesting that medical care is accessible and of high quality even for the elderly population.
Furthermore, Japan’s government allocates 23% (the highest public healthcare expenditure proportion) of its total budget to healthcare and funds 84% of all healthcare expenditure in the country. This expenditure supports the country’s largely affordable universal healthcare. There are no deductible payments, co-pays are charged based on age range and premiums are adjusted based on income.
Following Japan’s lead, Australia comes in #2 because of its massive government expenditure on healthcare, good citizen health and high concentration of doctors and nurses per capita.
Australia also scored remarkably high on the Health Access and Quality (HAQ) index, suggesting that individuals have access to necessary treatment for life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and respiratory infections.
As per national statistics, Australia’s cancer mortality-to-incidence ratio is among the lowest compared to other developed countries.
Despite trailing on government health spending, Australians pay higher out-of-pocket expenses than most countries considered for this study. This is confirmed by Australia’s high rate of private healthcare coverage.
- New Zealand
Where it lacks in some areas of basic healthcare programmes such as its DPT immunisation rate (92% of children up to 2 years old), New Zealand well makes up for in terms of its high accessibility and affordability scores, which is largely due to the fact that its national healthcare system is publicly funded. Subsidies are offered to financially challenged populations, and children under 13 can enjoy free primary care.
Primarily because of these features, New Zealanders scored relatively lower in out-of-pocket costs (23% lower than most countries in the study).
Of note, New Zealand also had the 2nd highest physician per capita rate (30.25 per 10,000 residents) and the 3rd highest nurse and midwife rate (11.1 per 1,000 residents), suggesting citizens have ample access to medical personnel as of 2016.
And having a culturally diverse population, one of the challenges faced by the country’s healthcare system is how to extend highly affordable health services to certain demographics, as in the case of its DPT immunisation programme for children of native groups.
If the cost of living seems intimidating to those who are considering moving into this country, then have comfort in the fact that the money collected by the government largely goes to an exceptional medical care and an enviable health insurance system.
As proof to this, Singaporeans enjoy high-quality healthcare, live long lives with low maternal and infant mortality rates and are automatically covered by government health insurance.
On average, Singaporeans lead significantly longer lives, beating the global life expectancy average by over 12 years. The country also has some of the lowest infant mortality (2.2/1,000 births) and maternal mortality (10/1,000) rates worldwide.
Of note, Singapore has the 5th highest rate of physicians and nurses per capita, suggesting that health services are abundant.
Despite citizens being automatically enrolled in their public health insurance scheme, MediShield Life, they still face a higher cost burden as compared to other countries on the list.
Out of pocket spending is estimated at 46%, and is almost 10% greater compared to the average private spending on healthcare compared to other countries listed. These expeditures may not only come in the form of mandatory CPF contributions like Medisave, but also through individual decisions to get private hospitals or non-subsidised ward treatment.
- South Korea
Among the progressive countries on the list, South Korea received one of the highest HAQ scores, suggesting high-quality medical treatment for common illnesses. For one, the country has one of the highest 5-year colorectal and cervical cancer survival rates and one of the lowest rates of inpatient mortality for stroke.
Additionally, medical services are abundant, with South Korea having one of the highest physician (23.66/10,000) and hospital bed rates (11.5/1,000) per capita out of the countries studied. It also has one of the highest DPT immunisation rates, indicating widespread access to routine childhood vaccinations.
Despite these efforts, South Korea just like Singapore, also has private cost burden that is still relatively high at 41%, wherein out-of-pocket spending is 3rd highest out of the countries studied.
Healthcare is an important factor that determines a country’s standing in terms of cost of living as well as an indicator for quality of life indices. A strong yet affordable healthcare system is ideal, but there are many factors that come into play such as government spending, as well as the people’s reliance on the healthcare sector offered in the country.