Countries with Free Healthcare and Universal Healthcare 2024

Healthcare News & Updates

Countries around the world offer various forms of healthcare coverage, including free or heavily subsidized healthcare services. It's essential to understand the nuances of these systems, especially if you're planning to travel or live abroad.

Sep 6
Dr Sandip Patel
Founder & CEO, Docthub
Countries with Free Healthcare and Universal Healthcare 2023

While some countries provide free healthcare for their residents, it's not always the same for travelers and expatriates. The concept of "universal healthcare" can vary greatly, leading to different experiences and costs. 

In this blog, we'll explore these healthcare systems, their benefits, and what you need to know as a visitor or foreigner.


What is free healthcare and universal healthcare?

Free healthcare and universal healthcare are healthcare systems designed to provide medical services to individuals without or with minimal direct financial costs at the point of use. 


Free Healthcare 

Free healthcare typically means that certain services or the entire healthcare system are funded by the government or another entity, such as taxes. This ensures that individuals can access necessary medical care without having to pay directly when they receive treatment. 

The benefits of free healthcare include increased access to healthcare services, especially for low-income individuals, and the potential for better public health outcomes.


Universal Healthcare

Universal healthcare aims to provide healthcare coverage to all residents of a country, often without direct charges at the point of service. It goes beyond just cost coverage and strives for equitable access to quality healthcare services for everyone. 

The benefits of universal healthcare include reduced financial barriers to care, improved overall health in populations, and a sense of security knowing that medical assistance is available when needed.


5 Reasons why healthcare should be free

There are compelling reasons why healthcare should be free:

Equal Access: Free healthcare ensures that everyone, regardless of their income or social status, can access necessary medical services. This promotes equal opportunities for health.

Preventive Care: People are more likely to seek preventive care and early treatment when it's free, reducing the burden of advanced and costly diseases on the healthcare system.

Economic Productivity: Healthy individuals are more productive in the workforce, contributing to economic growth and stability.

Reduced Health Disparities: Free healthcare helps reduce health disparities between different socioeconomic groups, leading to a healthier and more equitable society.

Public Health: It's an effective way to manage public health crises like pandemics, as everyone can receive timely medical attention, curbing the spread of diseases.


Can foreigners get free or universal healthcare?

While some hospitals might not bill tourists for minor treatments in specific cases, no country offers completely free healthcare to short-term visitors. As a tourist, it's crucial to have travel health insurance to cover any unexpected medical costs.

However, if you become a legal resident of the country, it's a different situation. Then, you'll be part of the healthcare system and can typically access healthcare similarly to a citizen. For instance, let's take a look at how healthcare works in Portugal.

Healthcare systems in each country are typically funded by taxes or contributions from residents. If you don't contribute to a country's national health fund, you usually won't qualify for its benefits.

That's why having insurance is so vital when traveling abroad, even in countries with free healthcare.


Countries with free healthcare for foreigners

Brazil is the only country where healthcare is free for everyone. Their laws say that healthcare is a right, so anyone in the country, even tourists, can get free medical care.


Countries that have Universal Healthcare Systems

Many countries worldwide offer universal healthcare, aiming to provide nearly all their citizens or residents with health coverage in some form. In these nations, healthcare expenses are often shared between employers and individuals through various contributions, cost-sharing agreements, copays, and related fees. The primary objective is to make healthcare as affordable and accessible as possible for a vast number of people.

Additionally, some countries have systems where the government covers certain healthcare costs instead of patients. 

Let us explore how many countries have free healthcare, which are the countries with free healthcare for foreigners, and if there are countries with free healthcare healthier.

  • 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


Pros and Cons of free healthcare and universal healthcare systems

Here are the free healthcare and universal healthcare pros and cons:


  • Accessibility: Everyone can get medical care, no matter how much money they make or where they come from.
  • Cost Savings: It can save money in the long run because it focuses on preventing illnesses, which means fewer expensive treatments later.
  • Equity: Healthcare is seen as a basic right, so everyone gets the same access.
  • Better Public Health: People can catch and treat illnesses early, which makes everyone healthier.



  • High Taxes: It's paid for with taxes, which can be tough on the economy and taxpayers.
  • Long Wait Times: Sometimes, there are long waits for treatment because lots of people need care.
  • Limited Choice: You might not get to choose your care because the government runs things.
  • Limited Access to Special Treatments: Some fancy treatments might not be available because they're too expensive.

These factors contribute to the ongoing debate about the advantages and disadvantages of universal healthcare, with some critics pointing out why universal healthcare is bad.


For more healthcare-related updates and the latest healthcare industry news visit




1. Which country has the best healthcare system in the world?

Countries like Belgium, Denmark, and Sweden are often recognized for having some of the best healthcare systems in the world.


2. What is the rank of India in healthcare?

The rank of India in healthcare is 145th out of 195 countries.


3. What country has the most advanced healthcare in the world?

The United States is often considered to have one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world, characterized by cutting-edge medical technology and a robust pharmaceutical industry.


4. Which state is no 1 in health in India?

Kerala is often ranked as the top state in terms of health indicators in India, owing to its robust healthcare infrastructure and public health initiatives.


5. Which is the healthiest city in India?

Indore, located in the state of Madhya Pradesh, is often regarded as one of the healthiest cities in India due to its focus on cleanliness, sanitation, and public health initiatives.