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An overview of countries that offer free healthcare

HR & Compliance

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Updated on:
February 20, 2024
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Updated on :

February 20, 2024
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An overview of countries that offer free healthcare

There are quite a number of countries around the world that offer free healthcare or highly subsidized universal healthcare. However, in most places, there are usually limitations to the benefits of the free healthcare provided. 

As a global organization, it is essential to be fully equipped with all the necessary information on countries that offer free healthcare.This article highlights comprehensive information on countries that offer free healthcare and benefits that apply to visitors and foreigners.

How many countries have free healthcare?

All but 43 countries in the world have free healthcare or access to universal healthcare for at least 90% of their citizens according to Hudson’s Global Residence Index. However, Brazil is the only country in the world that offers free healthcare for all its citizens. Also, Norway is the first country in the world to implement a free healthcare policy as far back as 1912. Coincidentally, Norway is recognized as one of the healthiest countries in the world. 

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List of countries with free healthcare

The countries listed below have free or universal healthcare which is defined as the provision of healthcare to almost 100% of citizens. Although each country has some form of universal health coverage, the healthcare models vary widely.

Individuals living in these countries may experience different levels of coverage and taxation and may or may not be required to purchase supplementary health coverage. Furthermore, universal coverage often only extends to citizens who pay taxes and contribute to social funds. Employers may be required to offer individuals residing in foreign countries additional health coverage if they cannot buy into the universal system in their country.

Suppose you plan to employ individuals in any of the following countries. In that case, you will need to familiarize yourself with the local regulations, as you may still be required to offer health coverage to employees.

  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bahamas
  • Bahrain
  • Belgium
  • Bhutan
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Burkina Faso
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kuwait
  • Luxembourg
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • North Korea
  • Norway
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Rwanda
  • Serbia
  • Seychelles
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Suriname
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  • United Kingdom

What countries do not have free healthcare?

The USA is the largest country without a universal healthcare system. However, it functions with organizations providing healthcare insurance packages which covers the employees and their dependents. With notably high healthcare costs, the USA provides government programmes to help the disabled, old people and other vulnerable demographics.

Other countries with no free healthcare include Nigeria, Yemen, South Africa, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.

Is universal healthcare applicable to visitors and foreigners?

Healthcare is never totally free anywhere in the world. However, healthcare laws are specific to each country and universal healthcare doesn't guarantee coverage for every citizen or foreigner. However, for visitors, options like traveler's health insurance are available to provide comprehensive and affordable supplementary and primary coverage.

How does universal healthcare impact visitors?

How universal healthcare impacts visitors depends on the country and the universal healthcare system. Although there are a few primary models for universal healthcare, the laws and regulations that affect how these models are implemented in places with free healthcare vary.

Because of this, the amount of coverage that travelers and non-citizens receive is subject to change based on the country's laws. 

In the United Kingdom, for example, health coverage applies to any legal resident of the UK. This means that no matter where you're from, you're eligible for healthcare.

For citizens, healthcare is provided based on taxation, but non-citizens who reside in the UK gain access to the country's health coverage through an annual Immigration Health Surcharge. Tourists, however, are not entitled to universal healthcare benefits.

By contrast, Brazil's government-funded universal healthcare is available to visitors and foreigners. Even individuals on vacation can seek preventative and emergency care in the country, meaning that non-citizens living and working in the country have access to health coverage.

Employers will need to familiarize themselves with the status of individuals residing in different countries when considering what health benefits they will be expected to provide. For example, although some countries offer their citizens socialized medicine, this will only sometimes extend to non-citizen residents.

Planning to provide comprehensive healthcare packages for your global team? Here’s how Skuad can help

Understanding and remaining compliant with local regulations in different countries can be extremely challenging as you expand your globally distributed team. Organizations planning to expand into new markets can make the process easier by partnering with Skuad’s global employment and payroll platform. 

Skuad simplifies hiring international talent, managing payroll for employees and contractors, and ensuring compliance with country-specific employment laws in over 160 countries across the globe without setting up a subsidiary or an entity. 

With Skuad, you will save time and money while providing topnotch and comprehensive benefit packages for your global team. 

To know more about Skuad, book a demo today.


What's the difference between free and universal healthcare?

Free healthcare means that healthcare is provided to every citizen in a country for free or at a subsidized rate compared to other countries. Universal healthcare, on the other hand implies that the country has a healthcare system that is accessible by at least 90% of the citizens.

Which countries have the best free healthcare?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the countries with the best healthcare system in the world are,

  • France
  • Italy
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • Japan
  • Spain
  • Malta
  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Oman

About the author

Catalina Wang is a Human Resource Consultant. She manages recruitment, onboarding, and contract administration staffing for many organizations and remote teams. She’s passionate about efficient HR management and the impact of tech on hiring practices.

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