(Qcostarica.com, by Internationalliving.com) According to International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2015, healthcare is one of the major  categories (8th)  taken into account to find the best retirement havens in the world.

Access to affordable, high-quality healthcare is important to most, difficult situation given that much depends on the healthcare needs of each person.

So in this category, InternationalLiving.com correspondents were asked to provide costs for a range of common surgical procedures, as well as the cost of a doctor’s appointment.They also analyzed the overall quality of both the public and private health-care systems, asking foreigners (expats) on their experiences with the healthcare system.

The five countries which received the top scores in the healthcare category of this year’s index, are:

1. Malaysia


Coming in first place in the healthcare category of International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index, Malaysia offers excellent, low-cost healthcare, and some of the best-trained surgeons, dentists and specialists in the world. Medical expertise here is comparable and sometimes better than in most Western countries.

2. Costa Rica

As well as offering a high-quality, government-run universal healthcare system for citizens and legal residents, medical care from private providers is also available in Costa Rica. It’s high quality, with all the latest equipment and techniques being used. Many medical tourists from the U.S. come to Costa Rica for procedures not covered by insurance in the U.S. or those for which they would pay a lot out of pocket back home, including cosmetic surgery, knee replacements, and more.

3. Uruguay

In Uruguay, you’ll find private health insurance plans similar to those available in North America. You’ll also have the option of Uruguay’s public healthcare system, which assures all legal residents have access to medical care when they need it. But in addition, Uruguay has a third option, which is more popular than either private health insurance or the public healthcare system. It’s a private hospital plan, often called a mutualista. With a mutualista, you apply to become a member of a private hospital’s plan.

4. Thailand

Thailand has a great reputation for affordable and easily accessible healthcare. It continues to be rated highly by expats scattered throughout the country. Many say that the facilities are on a par with, and sometimes better than, what is available in their home countries. Many Thai healthcare professionals in the larger city centers speak English, and even in the more rural areas, it is possible to find doctors who speak some English.

5. Panama

Panama’s shining skyline can be a shock for first-time visitors. Especially if they expect something a little more Third World. The same can be said of the nation’s hospitals, which surprise many expats, with a high level of personalized care and modern equipment. The best known is the technologically advanced Punta Pacifica Hospital, which is affiliated with Johns Hopkins International. Many of the doctors speak excellent English, having trained in the U.S. or Canada.

Stay up to date with the latest stories by signing up to our newsletter, or following us on Facebook.