The World's Best Healthcare

June 20, 2013, Buenaventura, Panama, Live and Invest Overseas’ First Annual Retire Overseas Index names the world’s best and most affordable places to seek medical care.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

As you know, this Monday, we released our Retire Overseas Index for 2013.

This first-ever index surveys the 21 best places in the world to retire. Each destination is graded in each of 12 categories, from cost of living to climate, from infrastructure to healthcare, from residency options to taxes.

Yesterday, we looked closely at how we considered and graded the cost of living in each of our winning destinations.

As critically important as budget to the would-be retiree overseas is healthcare, especially if you have an existing health concern that requires ongoing monitoring and potentially emergency treatment. In that case, this is a make-or-break issue.

And, in that case, you should take Granada, Nicaragua, and both Ambergris Caye and Cayo, Belize, off your list.

That said, the Hospital Metropolitano Vivian Pellas in Managua provides globally competitive care. Managua is 45 to 60 minutes from Granada, probably near enough for you to be able to get to the capital in time for even emergency care.

There's currently no facility that I would describe as "globally competitive" in Belize. Expats in Belize typically travel north to Chetumal, Mexico, when they need medical care they don't feel comfortable seeking out in Belize.

In other words, in every destination included on our list you'd be near enough to international-standard care, nearer if you stick with the metropolitan areas.

For the healthcare category of our survey, we take into account the availability of care of a standard foreigners will find acceptable in the localized destination being highlighted; insurance coverage options; cost (both of care and of local insurance); and the quality and number of hospitals and clinics. All these things considered, our Retire Overseas Index awards "A's" in this category to:

-Cebu, Philippines 
-Chiang Mai, Thailand 
-Cuenca, Ecuador 
-Georgetown, Malaysia 
-Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 
-Languedoc, France 
-Medellin, Colombia 
-Panama City Beaches

Note that I made the point above that, for these rankings, we are looking at the private care available in each destination. This is because retirees in these places are going to be more comfortable seeking private care, rather than care from the local public system.

In the Philippines, for example, the private health care sector is booming, fueling a fast-growing medical tourism industry here. This is what we'd recommend the resident retiree tap into. Public facilities in this country likely would not be of a standard you'd find acceptable.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. You can read the complete survey, including detailed budgets and grades for each destination in each of the 12 categories considered, in the current issue of my Overseas Retirement Letter, available here.

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