The 16 countries with the world’s best healthcare systems

Winter Frozen Luxembourg City

Barbara Tasch

Luxembourg City in the winter.

The Legatum Institute, a London-based research institute released its 10th annual global Prosperity Index in November, a huge survey that ranks the most prosperous countries in the world.

The organisation compares 104 variables to come up with its list, splitting those variables into nine subindexes. One of the big components of the ranking is how healthy a country’s people are.

Health is measured by three key components by the Legatum Institute: a country’s basic mental and physical health, health infrastructure, and the availability of preventative care.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the countries that have the best scores in the Prosperity Index, and therefore rank as the world’s healthiest, are generally big, developed economies with large amounts of resources.

Britain — whose NHS pioneered free at the point of use healthcare globally — misses out on this list, finishing 20th in the Legatum Institute’s health sub-index.

Take a look at the top 16 countries below:

16. Canada — Canada’s 1984 Health Act entrenches in law the country’s system of free at the point of access healthcare, known as Medicare. Canada’s system is not perfect however, and in recent years the number of Canadians going south for private care in the USA has grown.

15. Qatar — The best standards of health in the Middle East can be found in the wealthy nation of Qatar. The nation has recently taken steps to implement a universal healthcare system across the entire country.

14. France — Famed for the quality of its health services, it is not surprising to see France close to the top of the pile. The country’s average life expectancy is 82.

13. Norway — Norway, along with its Scandinavian counterparts, often comes close to global quality of life rankings, and one reason is the health of its citizens. The country’s healthcare system is free for children under 16, but adults must pay for services. The country spends more per person on healthcare than any other country on earth.

12. New Zealand — New Zealand is one of the most active countries in the world, with the nation punching well above its weight in international sporting competitions. It has an average life expectancy of 81.6 years.

11. Belgium — With an average age of 81.1, Belgium’s life expectancy is just outside the world’s top 20. The country has universal healthcare, but also requires mandatory health insurance for all citizens.

10. Germany — Despite a love of beer and sausages, Germans are some of the world’s healthiest people. The country’s average life expectancy is 81.

9. Israel — Israel is the highest ranked of any Middle Eastern state on the Legatum Institute’s health sub-index, and the country has the 8th highest life expectancy on the planet, 82.5 years.

8. Australia — With great weather and low pollution, it is not surprising that Australia is ranked as the healthiest nation in the southern hemisphere. Its average life expectancy is 82.8, the 4th highest in the world.

7. Hong Kong — The tiny city-state of Hong Kong has 11 private and 42 public hospitals to serve its population of just over 7.2 million people. In 2012, women in Hong Kong had the longest average life expectancy of any demographic on earth.

6. Sweden — As with most quality of life and health rankings, northern European countries like Sweden score highly. Swedish men have the 4th highest life expectancy of any nation, living to an average of 80.7 years.

5. Netherlands — In 2015 the Netherlands gained the number one spot at the top of the annual Euro health consumer index, which compares healthcare systems in Europe, scoring 916 of a maximum 1,000 points

4. Japan — The country’s life expectancy — 83.7 — is the highest on the planet. That has caused demographic issues in the country, with its population ageing rapidly.

3. Switzerland — Rich, beautiful, and incredibly healthy. Switzerland has pretty much all anyone could want from a country. Its healthcare service is universal and is based upon the mandatory holding of health insurance by all citizens.

2. Singapore — Another small city-state to make the top of the Prosperity Index’s health sub-index. Singapore’s 5.6 million citizens have an average life expectancy of 83.1 years old.

1. Luxembourg — Nestled between the Netherlands, France, and Germany, the wealthy nation of Luxembourg tops the Legatum Institute’s health sub-index. The country’s average life expectancy is 82.


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