The quality, accessibility and cost of health services are at the heart of expatriates’ concerns when they consider moving abroad. Based on various health systems’ rankings as well as key performance indicators, Foyer Global Health provides you with an overview of the five best healthcare systems in the world.
Rankings of world’s best healthcare systems
There are many rankings that assess and measure the performance of health systems worldwide .These comparative studies can vary considerably depending on the indicators selected, the authors and the geographical area considered. Most indexes find, however, that Asian and European countries provide the best overall healthcare systems in the world.
The WHO Health Index
In 2000, the WHO established a global ranking of 191 health systems using five performance indicators: overall level of population health; health inequalities (or disparities) within the population; overall level of health system responsiveness; distribution of responsiveness within the population; and the distribution of the health system’s financial burden within the population. This pioneer study found that France provides the best overall healthcare followed, among major countries, by Italy, Spain, Oman, and Austria. More than 20 years later, this Index is still used as a standard reference for global ranking of healthcare systems.
OECD’s Health at a Glance
Since 1985, the OECD has been collecting and analysing information on health systems. Every two years, the organisation publishes Health at a Glance, a comparative study providing data on health system performance across OECD member countries and key emerging economies as well as illustrating key trends. This comprehensive study is based on the following indicators: population health status, risk factors for health, access to health services, quality of healthcare, health workforce and resources, and health expenditure in relation to healthcare accessibility, quality and outcomes. The 2021 edition of Health at a Glance provides a comparative overview of the countries’ performance. For example, in Japan, the population’s health status is the best, the risk factors for health are the lowest and the health expenditure is among the highest. Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Luxembourg and Italy perform well on all key indicators.
Legatum Prosperity Index™
The Legatum Institute, a London-based think-tank, has developed the Legatum Prosperity Index™ as a practical tool to assess the health performance of 167 countries in twelve different areas using 300 indicators.. The index provides an overall assessment of prosperity across its institutional, economic and social dimensions, while it also ranks countries by topic. Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Norway and Taiwan score in the top 5 of the 2021 Legatum Prosperity Index™.
Euro Health Consumer Index
In 2005, the Health Consumer Powerhouse created the Euro Health Consumer Index to evaluate the performance of health systems in 35 European countries based on 46 different health indicators, including patient rights, treatment outcomes and access to care. In 2018, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Belgium ranked in the top 5.
Healthcare Access and Quality Index
As part of the Global Burden of Disease project, an international team of 2,000 researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations developed the Healthcare Access and Quality Index in order to assess the healthcare quality and accessibility in more than 190 countries but also, most importantly, the incidence of 32 preventable causes of death.
What are the 5 best healthcare systems in the world?
Based on the key indicators and the rankings mentioned above, here is our take on the five best health systems in the world.
Singapore’s healthcare system is often praised around the world for being very efficient and ultra-modern. And for good reason: healthcare has been a clear priority for the government for several years. In both the public and private sectors, patients benefit from high-quality medical services provided by highly trained medical staff in top-notch facilities.
The Japanese have one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world. This is probably mainly due to the excellence of the Japanese healthcare system, which is modern, efficient and accessible. Public health insurance covers 70% of healthcare expenses for all the residents who can access freely and quickly medical services in modern health facilities.
The Swiss healthcare system performs well in terms of accessibility, quality and supply of medical services, solidarity, and overall efficiency (ratio of resources allocated to health care in relation to healthcare outcomes). Fuelled by substantial expenditure, Switzerland’s healthcare system relies on a mix of public/private actors operating in a highly regulated market.
The Dutch healthcare system is based on a harmonious balance between regulation and liberalism: residents benefit from a centralised universal coverage system regulated by the state and implemented by private insurance companies. The Dutch health system is one of the best in Europe in terms of accessibility (timeliness, affordability), case management (healthcare prevention and coordination), equity and healthcare outcomes.
A pioneer in digital health, the Asian Tiger has a brilliant healthcare system: it is efficiently organised, adaptable and accessible. All Taiwanese residents have access to very high-quality health services almost free of charge thanks to National Health Insurance. The latter covers nearly all medical expenses and facilitates access to healthcare for the population. The digitisation of medical services contributes to increases in healthcare efficiency and avoids unnecessary medical tests.
For more information on healthcare systems throughout the world, do not hesitate to read our country guides!