No country has the same healthcare system. Each country’s healthcare system functions differently, with different funding and government support, and different features in the mix of private and public healthcare. In Asia, there are many countries with world-class healthcare services such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea. This article analyses the healthcare system of several countries in Asia and identifies the countries with the best healthcare systems in Asia.
We used data from Bloomberg’s 2018 Health Care Efficiency Index to identify the list of countries in Asia with the best healthcare systems in Asia. In the index’s top 20 countries with most efficient healthcare, there are eight countries from Asia that rank in the top 20. In this article, we narrow it down to five countries, where we then break down each country’s healthcare system to find out what makes them so efficient.
Rank 1: Hong Kong
Rank 2: Singapore
Rank 3: South Korea
Rank 4: Japan
Rank 5: Taiwan
There is a good reason why Hong Kong’s healthcare system ranks first in our list. In Bloomberg’s index, the SAR ranks first in the world for having the most efficient healthcare system in Asia. Like many countries, Hong Kong has both private and public healthcare. What makes Hong Kong stand out against other countries is the level of service provided for healthcare. There is a huge concentration of clinics, hospitals and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinics in every region and district of Hong Kong, with 24-hour emergency services and doctors that are all internationally trained and practiced in their area of expertise.
In Hong Kong’s public healthcare system, healthcare comes at very little cost for its residents as the government heavily subsidises the costs of healthcare for its citizens and all other eligible individuals. Furthermore, the quality of service provided in exchange for low costs is top class, as Hong Kong’s medical facilities are state of the art and all medical personnel is highly trained, with a majority of their doctors graduating from top medical institutions in the U.S and other countries. The same can be said of the private sector, the only difference being the price as the cost of private healthcare in Hong Kong is staggeringly high.
Singapore’s universal healthcare system is also another system that can be considered on par with Hong Kong. The Singapore government heavily supports the healthcare system, as there are many schemes and subsidies available for Singapore citizens and eligible individuals. As the system is funded by both the government and the public, there are three main areas of finance: MediSave, MediShield and MediFund.
MediSave is a compulsory personal medical fund where each eligible individual is required to set aside a part of his or her income into the MediSave scheme in order to be financially prepared when health issues arise.
MediShield is a basic health insurance scheme for eligible individuals to help them pay for larger health bills such as hospitalisation and surgery where MediSave is unable to cover.
MediFund is an endowment fund set up specifically for the needy, as it uses the interest it generates to help pay for Singaporeans who are having trouble affording the costs of their healthcare services.
On top of the government schemes provided, many Singaporeans buy health insurance as a top up to the government subsidies to make their healthcare costs even more manageable.
The government schemes are only made available to Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, but expats are still provided the same level of care even without the government aid. However, as healthcare in Singapore can become quite costly, many expats choose to purchase health insurance to better cover themselves when living in Singapore.
South Korea is the third country to have one of the best healthcare systems in Asia while it ranks fifth in the Bloomberg index. The public healthcare system in South Korea is known as the National Health Insurance (NHI), where it delivers high quality service and requires anyone living in South Korea longer than six months to register. Healthcare in South Korea is universal and funded through a mix of government subsidies, outside contributions and tobacco surcharges.
The advantage of the NHI lies in the fact that anyone, regardless of residency status, must register in the system after living in South Korea for more than six months. This means that expats living longer than six months in South Korea will have access to health insurance for public healthcare. The NHI covers 50% to 80% of the medical costs incurred, depending on the type of treatment the patient receives. Additionally, those registered under the NHI have the freedom to pick their preferred healthcare provider and facility, and majority of the health providers in South Korea are trained and fluent in English.
The success of the system can be seen from the increased life expectancy of its citizens reaching nearly 90 years old today.
Japan ranks seventh in the index as the country with one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world.
Similar to South Korea, Japan has a universal healthcare system called the Statutory Health Insurance System (SHIS) where anyone living in Japan for longer than three months must register under the system. In Japan, their healthcare system is known for its preventive care rather than reactive care, as they offer many free health screenings and check-ups to detect early signs of illnesses or diseases. This is a main reason why Japan has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world, reaching 90 years old.
Additionally, to ensure that everyone is covered, those employed are covered by the Employee’s Health Insurance while those who are unemployed, self-employed or retired fall under the National Health Insurance.
The Bloomberg index ranks Taiwan ninth in the world for most efficient healthcare. It is the final country on our list for having one of the best healthcare systems in Asia due to its universal and mandatory health insurance for its constituents.
It also has a National Health Insurance (NHI) system similar to South Korea, where anyone living longer than six months in Taiwan are required to register in the system. Under NHI, almost any health treatment is covered. There is free coverage for preventive care like health screenings, available care for mental health and general health and access to basic necessities such as medication. The system operates on a single payer system, where one public agent controls healthcare in Taiwan. Due to this nationalised system, administration costs are very low, and Taiwan only spends about 6% of its GDP on healthcare.
At APRIL International, we specialise in designing and delivering flexible international health insurance for individuals, families and companies wherever they are in Asia. For more information, explore our plans for expats in Asia.
You can contact our different offices around Asia and request a quote, our experts will be happy to assist you!
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