Healthcare for expats in Europe

Quick Guide to Europe Healthcare for Expats 

Quick Guide to Europe Healthcare for Expats

For expats, healthcare is an integral part of relocating to the destinations of their dreams. If you are planning to move to a European location, you must do thorough research before finalizing it. Healthcare in most European countries has a high standard. There is no doubt that Europe has some of the best healthcare options for residents as well as expats.

Expats in Europe should ideally purchase private medical insurance or include it in their relocation package. Being eligible for state healthcare by acquiring nationality or residency can be am option, but it may not be available depending on your residency and visa status. No matter where you want to relocate to Europe, prioritize obtaining adequate medical coverage, especially before you enter the country. While you may think that healthcare in Europe is free for expats, it is generally not.

Which researching, try to find out if your shortlisted European destinations have quality healthcare, adequate private and public services. Also, check out the expenses for various treatments and the waiting times in public hospitals. To make it easier for you, here is a list of top four healthcare systems in Europe for expats.

Healthcare for Expats in Europe


The healthcare system in France has always been fantastic with impeccable services, shorter waiting times, and professional staff due to adequate funding from the government. The system improved further when the ‘Protection Universelle Maladie’ (PUMA) was introduced in early 2016. Through PUMA, residents, as well as expats, can access public healthcare in the right manner. To be eligible for this program, expats will have to live in the country for at least three consecutive months. They should be legal permanent residents, which implies that they should live in France for a minimum of 183 days per year.

For retirees, there may be certain exclusions. So, do in-depth research on PUMA restrictions for retirees before you plan to relocate. The French public healthcare system is not free; however, it is not as expensive as private healthcare. You just need to make a monthly payment to access healthcare facilities that come with huge discounts as the rates fixed by the government are quite reasonable. We have sourced global healthcare for many expats and international citizens residing in France.

Healthcare for Expats in Europe


Germany’s healthcare system is robust, and that’s the reason why the life expectancy figures in the country are commendable. The doctor-to-patient rate is also very high, thus making it one of the best healthcare systems in Europe. Everyone in the country, including expats with residency permits, must have health insurance coverage.

You will also need a valid health certificate issued by a doctor in Germany and sufficient medical insurance to obtain a residence permit. As an expat, you should choose a licensed insurance provider to get yourself and your family covered. There is a fixed fee for availing the mandatory government healthcare system. However, this fee is usually paid by employers. Expats can opt for comprehensive insurance coverage for advanced or complex medical treatments.

Healthcare for Expats in UK

United Kingdom

In the UK, expats can access public healthcare or the NHS (National Health Service) primary care. If you are planning to stay in the UK on a visa that is for more than six months, you will have to pay £200 as an immigration health surcharge while applying for a visa. For students, the surcharge fee will be £150. However, the NHS has some shortcomings too. Secondary care is not included in the system, and you will have to pay some fees for dental care, eye care, and prescription drugs.

In most cases, expats are seen opting for supplemental coverage like international health insurance to avoid the long waiting times associated with NHS and get better care in private hospitals. Through private healthcare, expats can also get private rooms, treatments from specialists, and advanced facilities – all with little or no waiting.

Healthcare for Expats in Spain


According to a WHO report, Spain’s healthcare system ranks 7th in the world. It is not surprising to see that 99% of the population has health insurance. Almost 90% of people use the public healthcare system, while 19% of people (mostly expats) opt for private healthcare. Spain is home to hospitals that are equipped with the latest technology and diagnostic systems.

The public system is excellent; however, the waiting times for surgeries and specialist appointments can be very frustrating. Unfortunately, the waiting period for non-urgent medical procedures has increased drastically over the last few years. These are the reasons why expats seek private care through international health insurance. Apart from the much-needed comfort and privacy, there are Spanish insurance plans that also offer dental coverage. Dental care can be very expensive if you have to pay from your pocket.

Healthcare for Expats in Europe

It’s important to note that all the European Union countries and some additional non-EU countries offer EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) to their citizens. For expats with private healthcare insurance, going for private healthcare facilities can be the best bet. Opt for international healthcare insurance for maximum coverage during your stay in Europe. We also recommend that future and current global citizens download our new international health insurance guide for great tips and vital information that you will require if buying global medical insurance.

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