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8 Countries With the Best Healthcare for Employees

Table of Contents

Health insurance is one of the most critical benefits employers can offer their employees. While healthcare requirements and schemes vary around the world, many countries’ healthcare systems serve as a model for global employers seeking to attract and retain international talent.

The following list ranks the top eight countries for healthcare worldwide based on the Commonwealth Fund’s comparison of several high-income countries and the performance of those countries’ healthcare systems.

Using data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Health Organization (WHO), the Commonwealth Fund ranks countries based on their access to care, care process, equity, administrative efficiency, and responsive healthcare.

Learn why each of these countries is known for having some of the best healthcare around the globe and how to incorporate their best qualities into your global benefits packages to help you attract and retain top talent worldwide. 

1. Norway

Norway's healthcare system is renowned for its quality and accessibility, providing universal coverage through a tax-based national system.

All hospitals are funded by the public as a part of the national budget each year. While residents pay for all medical care, they get an exemption card once they reach their annual limit and are guaranteed free treatment for the remainder of the year. Healthcare is entirely free for children under age 16.

The Patients' Rights Act in Norway guarantees that individuals receive timely care for covered services, such as general practitioner appointments, hospital treatment, mental health care, and substance use treatment, with prescribed time limits to minimize waiting times.

Additionally, Norway has the highest number of doctors per person, and Norwegian local municipalities may apply for extra government funding to ensure they have an adequate number of physicians.

According to the Commonwealth Fund’s ranking, Norway’s healthcare system strengths include the following:

  • Universal access
  • High-quality care
  • Tax-funded
  • Low mortality rates from treatable causes
  • Low infant mortality rates
  • Skilled medical professionals
  • Healthcare outcomes
  • Administrative efficiency
  • Healthy lifestyles

Looking to hire employees in Norway? Explore our Norway hiring guide.

2. The Netherlands

The Netherlands' healthcare system brings together public and private options to offer a universal system.

All residents of the Netherlands are entitled to a comprehensive basic health insurance package and must purchase this statutory health insurance from private, competitive health insurers and healthcare providers.

Citizens contribute an annual fee for their insurance coverage, coupled with a capped deductible. However, those with lower incomes receive government assistance to alleviate the financial burden of their payments.

Private insurers must accept all applicants regardless of employment status or pre-existing conditions. This practice encourages insurers in the Netherlands to compete on quality and service rather than on avoidance of individuals with higher health risks.

According to the Commonwealth Fund’s ranking, the Netherlands’ healthcare system strengths include the following:

  • Universal access 
  • Affordability
  • High-quality care
  • Coordinated care
  • Skilled healthcare professionals
  • Timely availability to care on nights and weekends
  • Mental health providers included in primary care

Looking to hire employees in the Netherlands? Explore our Netherlands hiring guide.

3. Australia

Australia's healthcare system offers a blend of public and private options, providing comprehensive coverage for its citizens and permanent residents.

Taxes cover the public Medicare system, and residents pay 2% of their income to the Medicare Levy. Australia addresses income-related equity through annual spending caps for low-income individuals and incentives for people to seek primary care.

Medicare provides essential healthcare services for free or at reduced rates, such as medical appointments, hospital care, specialist visits, and prescription medications. It also covers some costs for physiotherapy, community nursing programs, and dental care for children.

The government recommends individuals with incomes surpassing a specific threshold to acquire private health insurance, aiming to alleviate strain on the public healthcare system. Private health insurance offers access to modern facilities, shorter waiting times, and coverage for services that Medicare does not cover, including eyeglasses, dental care, and ambulance rides.

According to the Commonwealth Fund’s ranking, Australia’s healthcare system strengths include the following:

  • Universal care
  • Affordable 
  • Easy access
  • Tax-funded
  • High-quality care
  • Administrative efficiency
  • Mental health providers included in primary care
  • Healthcare/outcomes/responsive healthcare
  • Little income-related disparities
  • High life expectancies

Looking to hire employees in Australia? Explore our Australia hiring guide

4. The United Kingdom

The U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS) is known for providing the most universally available and free healthcare system.

Healthcare benefits in the U.K. are paid entirely by central funding, and all individuals are eligible to access free primary, emergency, and compulsory psychiatric care. Employers provide coverage and may also offer private medical insurance to cover medical needs not covered by the NHS healthcare system, such as inpatient, outpatient, wellness, dental, and vision benefits.

U.K. citizens can also purchase private medical insurance for services not offered by the NHS or to access NHS-covered services more quickly.

According to the ranking, the U.K.'s healthcare system strengths include the following:

  • Universal care
  • Central funding
  • Affordability
  • Administrative efficiency
  • Preventive care
  • Small income-related performance disparities

Looking to hire employees in the U.K.? Explore our U.K. hiring guide.

Download our guide to learn how to offer competitive and compliant employee benefits that attract and retain top global talent:

Click to get our guide on how to retain talent with global employee benefits

5. Germany

Statutory contributions fund Germany's healthcare system, which helps guarantee free healthcare is consistently available for German citizens.

German law requires individuals living or working in Germany to carry health insurance. Equal payroll-based contributions from employees and employers and income-based contributions for self-employed individuals finance the public healthcare system.

Public insurance covers various health benefits for German employees and residents, including doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription medications, medical treatments, preventive care, and rehabilitation.

Individuals earning over €64,350 annually may choose to enroll in private health insurance as an alternative option for health coverage. Private health insurance offers more flexibility and personalized plans, shorter waiting times, and specialized medical services.

According to the Commonwealth Fund’s ranking, Germany’s healthcare system strengths include the following:

  • Easy access
  • Affordability
  • Funded through payroll contributions
  • High levels of protection against medical costs
  • Delivery of patient-centered care 
  • Little wait times for elective procedures and diagnostic testing
  • Small income-related disparities 
  • Coverage for foreign residents

Looking to hire employees in Germany? Explore our Germany hiring guide.

6. New Zealand

New Zealand has universal and free healthcare, ensuring all citizens have equal access to the same standard of healthcare treatment.

New Zealand built its universal healthcare system through government subsidies and public funding. Public tax money finances the vast majority of services provided through the healthcare system.

Free healthcare for citizens and permanent residents includes services including diagnostic tests, immunizations, cancer treatment, appointments, dental care, and prescription medication.

Residents can also pay for private healthcare to expedite the process for elective surgeries, avoid waiting times, and choose from a wide range of doctors and specialists.

Additionally, everyone in New Zealand, including tourists, visitors, and expats, can receive free medical care for accidental injuries under the Accident Compensation Corporation program (ACC). Taxes and levies fund the ACC, including a levy paid by private contractors working in New Zealand.

According to the Commonwealth Fund’s ranking, New Zealand’s healthcare system strengths include the following:

  • Universal care
  • Affordability 
  • Tax-funded
  • Easy access
  • Free care for accidental injuries
  • Coordinated care
  • Administrative efficiency

Looking to hire employees in New Zealand? Explore our New Zealand hiring guide

7. Sweden

The Swedish federal government finances Sweden's healthcare system, recognized as one of the world's best.

The Swedish public healthcare system is financed primarily through taxes and subsidized by the government. However, patients must pay a small co-pay for doctor’s visits, emergency room visits, and hospital stays.

Prescription drugs are affordable, and the government pays the difference on prescription bills once patients reach their annual cap of SEK 2,200.

Though public healthcare is universal and available for all citizens, private healthcare is also available. Citizens may opt for private healthcare to minimize wait times and use more private and comfortable facilities.  

According to the Commonwealth Fund’s ranking, Sweden’s healthcare system strengths include the following:

  • Universal care
  • Tax-funded
  • Affordable 
  • Easy access
  • Mental health providers included in primary care

Looking to hire employees in Sweden? Explore our Sweden hiring guide

8. Switzerland

Switzerland's healthcare system is characterized by its universal and mandatory nature, with all residents required to purchase private health insurance.

This system provides high-quality healthcare benefits to Swiss employees and residents but is also one of the most expensive in the world. Switzerland has no free, state-provided health services, and employers are not mandated to provide insurance to their employees.

Additionally, the government does provide subsidies to low-income residents or individuals with healthcare premiums that are more than 8% of their income.

Foreign expats must also obtain health insurance within at least three months of arrival.
To ensure all citizens can receive coverage, the Swiss government requires that all insurance providers offer a basic level of healthcare coverage. They may also not reject applicants.

Insurance companies may also offer supplemental or complementary plans for additional things not covered by basic insurance, such as alternative medicine and dental treatments.

According to the Commonwealth Fund’s ranking, Switzerland’s healthcare system strengths include the following:

  • Universal and mandatory
  • High-quality care
  • Coordinated care
  • Skilled healthcare professionals 
  • Small income-related disparities 
  • Good communication between primary care doctors and specialists
  • Healthcare outcomes/responsive healthcare 
  • Low mortality rates

Looking to hire employees in Switzerland? Explore our Switzerland hiring guide.

Retain top talent with competitive healthcare benefits

Universal coverage, removing cost barriers, and investing in high-quality and equitable health services are just some of the characteristics that distinguish these eight countries as top performers in healthcare. However, not all countries provide the same level of services.

To ensure equitable healthcare for a distributed workforce and remain competitive in the hiring market, HR teams should curate supplemental healthcare packages that provide top-level care for their talent—no matter where they reside.

That’s where Velocity Global can help. As a dedicated global benefits partner, we remove the stress of administering compliant and competitive healthcare benefits to your global workforce.

Our industry-leading Global Benefits solution offers competitive, compliant, and comprehensive packages tailored to your employees’ needs and their local markets. Let us handle the HR complexities so you can engage and retain top talent anywhere in more than 185 countries.

Simplify healthcare and attract global employees with benefits that matter. Contact us today to learn more.

Country healthcare FAQs

Below, we discuss some common questions regarding healthcare in the world. 

Which country has the best healthcare in the world?

Determining the country with the best healthcare system is complex, as many factors contribute to healthcare quality. Healthcare schemes vary in quality, accessibility, and affordability.

According to the Commonwealth Fund analysis, Norway ranks first overall. Next to Norway are Switzerland and the Netherlands, which consistently rank as top countries for healthcare due to their universal coverage, efficient healthcare systems, high-quality care, medical technology, and skilled healthcare professionals.

Where is the U.S. ranked in healthcare?

Where the U.S. ranks in healthcare is nuanced and subjective, as it depends on various factors. Based on the Commonwealth Fund findings, the U.S. ranks last among other measured high-income countries in access to care, administrative efficiency, equity, and responsive healthcare. The U.S. is the only high-income country that lacks universal health coverage.

However, the U.S. ranks second in care process measures, which include preventive care, safe care, engagement and patient preferences, and coordinated care.

On a global scale, the U.S. ranks 30th for the quality of its healthcare system and its ability to treat and cure diseases and illnesses, according to WHO. The U.S. also ranks 69th for its health score, which measures the health of the population and their access to necessary services for maintaining good health.

The U.S. healthcare system is often known for its high out-of-pocket health spending per person, which makes it difficult for many Americans to access needed healthcare. Though not required, U.S. employers often contribute to their employees’ health insurance plans or offer supplemental healthcare benefits to attract and retain talent.

Read more: Complete Guide to Employee Benefits in the U.S.

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