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Which Countries Have The Worst Healthcare In The World In 2022?

Sharon Clarkson

Medical Insurance Nurse

Staying healthy is extremely important for living a full and happy life. However, depending on where you live or were born, your access to healthcare and medical treatments can be widely disparate. This inequality can affect every aspect of healthcare, from whether or not enough emergency hospital beds are available, to how long you’ll need to wait for a life-changing surgery. We take a look at these factors and reveal countries with the worst healthcare in the world.

The varying levels of healthcare provision in different countries is not only an issue for locals, but also affects travellers and expats who call that country home, and can determine whether people with certain health issues choose to visit different parts of the world. While using appropriate international health insurance always offers the best protection available, a lack of provision makes it more difficult to get properly treated.

Doctors and nurses celebrating senior man leaving the hospital after recovery

Which countries have the worst healthcare in the world?

We wanted to explore this topic in greater depth to find out how countries compare for different aspects of healthcare. To do this, we have analysed OECD data for a range of different factors including hospitals, midwives and nurses, revealing the best and worst countries for each. Check our latest tool on the cost of medical claims abroad to see how much if would cost you to get treated if you don’t have health insurance in place.

Worst healthcare in the world for number of hospitals

The number of hospitals in each country is an important factor in how difficult it can be to get treated. If there are fewer hospitals, then they may be much busier or you might have to travel a very long distance to receive medical attention.

Countries with the fewest hospitals per person

Countries with the fewest hospitals per person

1/ Costa Rica

Hospitals per million people: 8.7

Costa Rica has the lowest number of hospitals compared to its population, with only 8.7 for every million people. This Central American country might be a dream to visit, but it could be worth bearing in mind the small number of hospitals if you have a condition that may require you to visit one.

Rank

Country

Total hospitals

Hospitals per million population

1
Costa Rica
44
8.7
2
Israel
83
9.17
3
Slovenia
29
13.89
4
Belgium
164
14.27
5
Luxembourg
10
16.13
6
Spain
777
16.48
7
Hungary
163
16.68
8
Ireland
86
17.43
9
Italy
1,056
17.68
10
Turkey
1,538
18.62

Countries with the highest rates of hospitals per head

The countries with the highest rates of hospitals per head

1/ Colombia

Hospitals per million people: 211.12

Colombia has by far the most hospitals per person with 211.12 for every million people. With an incredible 10,635 hospitals in the country, you can rest easy knowing there’s a good chance you’ll have one nearby wherever you are in the country.

Rank

Country

Total hospitals

Hospitals per million population

1
Colombia
10,635
211.12
2
South Korea
4,020
77.74
3
Japan
8,300
65.79
4
France
3,008
44.73
5
FInland
239
43.28
6
Mexico
4,707
37.19
7
Germany
3,026
36.42
8
Lithuania
94
33.64
9
Switzerland
281
32.77
10
Netherlands
568
32.75
Female nurse taking patient's pulse in hospital bed

Worst healthcare in the world for number of hospital beds

Having enough hospital beds available is incredibly important as they allow patients to be properly admitted to a hospital ward where they can receive appropriate treatment and observation. They also allow patients to get proper rest following procedures, helping them to make a full and speedy recovery.

Countries with the lowest number of hospital beds per person

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1/ Mexico

Hospital beds per 1,000 people: 0.97

Mexico has the lowest rate of hospital bed provision in the OECD with just 0.97 beds for every 1,000 people. This means that you might need to be very lucky to receive a hospital bed in the event of injury or illness.

Rank

Country

Total hospital beds

Hospital beds per 1,000 population

1
Mexico
123,275
0.97
2
Costa Rica
5,548
1.10
3
Colombia
87,461
1.74
4
Chile
38,788
2.03
5
Sweden
21,288
2.07
6
United Kingdom
163,873
2.45
7
Canada
94,748
2.52
8
New Zealand
12,667
2.54
9
Denmark
15,076
2.59
10
Iceland
1,009
2.80

Countries with the most hospital beds per person

Countries with the most hospital beds per person

1/ Japan

Hospital beds per 1,000 people: 12.84

Japan has the most hospital beds per person of any OECD country, with 12.84 for every 1,000 people. This high rate of bed provision is closely followed South Korea, who recorded 12.44 beds per 1,000 people.

Rank

Country

Total hospital beds

Hospital beds per 1,000 population

1
Japan
1,620,040
12.84
2
South Korea
643,440
12.44
3
Germany
657,662
7.91
4
Austria
63,838
7.19
5
Hungary
67,494
6.91
6
Czech Republic
70,225
6.58
7
Lithuania
17,733
6.35
8
Poland
234,417
6.17
9
France
392,593
5.84
10
Slovak Republic
32,422
5.76
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A medical consultant with two nurses walk along a hospital corridor

Worst healthcare in the world based on hospital employment

Here we can see which countries have the highest and lowest rates of hospital employment. A high rate indicates that the hospitals in the country are well-staffed and more likely to be able to treat patients fast and more effectively.

Countries with the lowest levels of hospital employment

Countries with the lowest levels of hospital employment

1/ Chile

Hospital employment per 1,000 people: 6.91

Chile is the country with the lowest rate of hospital employment in the OECD, with 6.91 people in every 1,000 being employed by a hospital. These low levels of staffing suggest that Chile’s hospitals could leave you waiting to be seen for longer than elsewhere in the event you need medical treatment.

Rank

Country

Hospital employment

Hospital employment per 1,000 people

1
Chile
132,028
6.91
2
Mexico
887,481
7.01
3
South Korea
438,481
8.49
4
Greece
102,130
9.53
5
Turkey
821,546
9.95
6
Israel
93,300
10.3
7
Hungary
103,288
10.57
8
Italy
640,198
10.72
9
Latvia
20,804
10.87
10
Estonia
16,666
12.56

Countries with the highest levels of hospital employment

Countries with the highest levels of hospital employment

1/ Switzerland

Hospital employment per 1,000 people: 25.77

Switzerland has the highest levels of hospital employment with 25.77 people in every 1,000 working in a hospital. These high levels of hospital staff suggest that Swiss hospitals will be able to deal with more patients in a timely manner than in other parts of the world.

Rank

Country

Hospital employment

Hospital employment per 1,000 people

1
Switzerland
220,960
25.77
2
United Kingdom
1,543,387
23.11
3
Norway
116,709
21.82
4
Iceland
7,570
21
5
France
1,322,184
19.66
6
Canada
644,045
17.13
7
Germany
1,422,000
17.11
8
Lithuania
43,414
15.54
9
Czech Republic
161,128
15.1
10
Netherlands
257,862
14.87
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Worst healthcare in the world for number of general medical practitioners

General medical practitioners, GPs and doctors are one of the key roles in any healthcare system, offering qualified advice and assessment to people for a wide range of medical issues.

Countries with the lowest number of general medical practitioners per head

Countries with the lowest number of general medical practitioners per head

1/ Indonesia

General medical practitioners per 1,000 people: 0.22

The country with the lowest level of general medical practitioners is Indonesia, where there are only 0.22 for every 1,000 people, which equates to more than 4,000 people to every doctor. If you’re unwell in Indonesia, you might be in for quite the queue.

Rank

Country

General medical practitioners

General medical practitioners per 1,000 people

1
Indonesia
59,988
0.22
2
United States
100,801
0.31
3
Greece
4,732
0.44
4
Brazil
118,013
0.56
5
Iceland
215
0.6
6
Turkey
52,280
0.63
7
South Korea
34,736
0.67
8
Slovenia
1,414
0.68
9
Czech Republic
7,357
0.69
10
Latvia
1,369
0.72

Countries with the highest number of general medical practitioners per head

Countries with the highest level of general medical practitioners per head

1/ Portugal

General medical practitioners per 1,000 people: 2.83

Portugal has the highest rate of general medical practitioners per 1,000 people at 2.83, which is far above any other country with Ireland taking second place on 1.83. This means Portugal has the capacity to see many more patients than any other country, which should hopefully translate into shorter waiting times.

Rank

Country

General medical practitioners

General medical practitioners per 1,000 people

1
Portugal
29,079
2.83
2
Ireland
9,039
1.83
3
Colombia
87,817
1.74
4
Netherlands
29,789
1.72
5
Australia
43,200
1.7
6
Austria
13,581
1.53
7
France
94,442
1.4
8
New Zealand
6,821
1.37
9
Canada
49,670
1.32
10
Chile
23,838
1.25
Young female doctor examining male patient's blood pressure

Countries with the worst healthcare in the world for number of practicing nurses

Nurses are often considered the backbone of healthcare systems, supporting doctors, caring for patients, and making the whole system work. A higher number of nurses translates into a greater quality of care for patients, and a more efficient system overall.

Countries with the lowest number of nurses per person

Countries with the lowest number of nurses per person

1/ South Africa

Practicing nurses per 1,000 people: 1.1

South Africa is the OECD country with the lowest number of nurses compared to its population, with a rate of just 1.1 per 1,000 people. This low number suggests that South Africa’s healthcare system does not have the capacity that other countries’ do, potentially lowering standards of patient care.

Rank

Country

Practicing nurses

Practicing nurses per 1,000 people

1
South Africa
64,638
1.1
2
Indonesia
578,078
2.16
3
India
3,263,633
2.39
4
Mexico
360,210
2.85
5
China
4,445,047
3.1
6
Greece
36,251
3.38
7
Latvia
8,402
4.39
8
Israel
45,400
5.01
9
Spain
277,633
5.89
10
Italy
367,684
6.16

Countries with the highest number of nurses per person

Countries with the highest number of nurses per person

1/ Switzerland

Practicing nurses per 1,000 people: 17.96

Switzerland is the country with the most nurses per head, with 17.96 practicing nurses for every 1,000 people. This high rate is closely followed by Norway, which has 17.88 nurses for every 1,000 people, though after that this number begins to fall Iceland on 15.36 and Germany on 13.95.

Rank

Country

Practicing nurses

Practicing nurses per 1,000 people

1
Switzerland
154,004
17.96
2
Norway
95,624
17.88
3
Iceland
5,539
15.36
4
Germany
1,159,000
13.95
5
Australia
309,906
12.22
6
Netherlands
185,394
10.69
7
Austria
92,115
10.37
8
Slovenia
21,464
10.28
9
New Zealand
50,976
10.24
10
Canada
375,319
9.98
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Dental Insurance for Expats - William Russell

Countries with the worst healthcare in the world for number of practicing dentists

Dentistry is a specialised medical field that is relevant to just about everyone at one time or another, so it’s a very important field to consider when comparing countries’ healthcare provision. Whether you need a filling, have chipped your tooth, or wear dental braces, there’s a wide range of common treatments that dentists can provide to keep your teeth healthy.

Countries with the fewest dentists per person

Countries with the fewest dentists per person

1/ Mexico

Practicing dentists per 1,000 people: 0.13

Mexico has the fewest dentists per head of any OECD country, with a rate of 0.13 dentists for every 1,000 people. This means that, on average, each dentists could be responsible for as many as 7,700 patients!

Rank

Country

Practicing dentists

Practicing dentist per 1,000 people

1
Mexico
16,870
0.13
2
Switzerland
3,481
0.41
3
South Korea
26,486
0.51
4
United Kingdom
35,568
0.53
5
The Netherlands
9,561
0.55
6
Austria
5,143
0.58
7
Australia
15,517
0.61
8
France
42,559
0.63
9
Canada
24,590
0.65
10
Latvia
1,364
0.71

Countries with the most dentists per person

Countries with the most dentists per person

1/ Estonia

Practicing dentists per 1,000 people: 0.98

Estonia has the highest rate of dentists per person, with 0.98 dentists for every 1,000 people. While this is the top score, followed closely by other Baltic states, Lithuania on 0.95 and Norway on 0.91, it still means that there are more than 1,000 people for every dentist in the country. This suggests that there is an international shortage of practicing dentists, which doesn’t bode well for our squeaky-clean smiles.

Rank

Country

Practicing dentists

Practicing dentist per 1,000 people

1
Estonia
1,303
0.98
2
Lithuania
2,649
0.95
3
Norway
4,845
0.91
4
Italy
51,954
0.87
5
Germany
71,040
0.85
6
Israel
7,500
0.83
7
Iceland
285
0.79
8
Belgium
8,697
0.76
9
Czech Republic
7,825
0.73
9
Hungary
7,145
0.73
Pregnant woman speaking to midwife in hospital

Worst healthcare in the world for number of practicing midwives

Midwives provide a crucial role in ensuring that childbirths go to plan, and that both the mother and baby are as safe as can be. As childbirth can happen at any moment once a pregnancy reaches its final stages, having enough midwives on-hand incase of a sudden spike in demand is essential. A higher rate of midwives indicates that mothers and their baby are more likely to receive the specialist care, attention and support they need.

Countries with the fewest midwives per person

Countries with the fewest midwives per person

1/ Slovenia

Practicing midwives per 1,000 people: 0.13

Slovenia is the country with the lowest rate of midwives per 1,000 people at just 0.13. If you’re considering travelling during your pregnancy, you may want to take this into consideration and make sure you are fully aware of the local healthcare that is available to you.

Rank

Country

Practicing midwives

Practicing midwives per 1,000 people

1
Slovenia
273
0.13
2
Latvia
402
0.21
3
Hungary
2,296
0.23
4
The Netherlands
4,118
0.24
5
Greece
2,854
0.27
6
Austria
2,451
0.28
7
Italy
17,253
0.29
8
Germany
25,000
0.30
9
Lithuania
894
0.32
10
France
23,139
0.34
10
Switzerland
2,879
0.34

Countries with the most midwives per person

Countries with the most midwives per person

1/ Australia

Practicing midwives per 1,000 people: 0.84

Australia has the highest number of practising midwives per head, at 0.84 per 1,000 people. This high rate is followed by Iceland with a score of 0.8, though after that the rate drops sharply to 0.56 in New Zealand and 0.55 in Norway.

Rank

Country

Practicing midwives

Practicing midwives per 1,000 people

1
Australia
21,235
0.84
2
Iceland
288
0.80
3
New Zealand
2,799
0.56
4
Norway
2,956
0.55
5
United Kingdom
32,169
0.48
6
Czech Republic
4,145
0.39
7
Estonia
480
0.36
8
France
23,139
0.34
8
Switzerland
2,879
0.34
10
Lithuania
894
0.32
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GP salaries

Another interesting factor that is worth mentioning is the pay that medical staff receive, as it can determine how attractive a country is for qualified professionals to live and work in. For example, countries that pay their doctors the least may struggle to retain talent if they can earn a lot more elsewhere.

Here we can see the average pay of GPs in USD across several different countries. This data is somewhat limited, but provides a good overview of pay levels in the countries where it was available.

Countries with highest and lowest paid GPs

Countries with the highest and lowest paid GPs

Country with the highest-paid GPs: Iceland

GP Salary: US$178,111.32

Iceland has the highest-paid GPs, earning as much as $178,111.32! This super-high salary is far more than anywhere else in the world, and is more than $50,000 more than second place Netherlands, where GPs can expect to earn around $125,102.58, which is still an extremely high salary.

Country with the lowest-paid GPs: Mexico

GP Salary: US$22,918.20

Mexico has the lowest salary for GPs at just $22,918.20 on average. While this is very low, we still have to consider that this amount of money would go a lot further in Mexico than it would in the USA for example. Other low-scoring countries include Turkey, where GPs are paid $24,705.58, and Hungary, where they earn around $26,495.33.

Rank

Country

GP Salary (US$)

1
Iceland
$178,111.32
2
Netherlands
$125,192.58
3
Finland
$85,635.35
4
United Kingdom
$81,179.92
5
Israel
$78,041.21
6
Spain
$75,308.31
7
Slovenia
$61,080.79
8
Chile
$52,831.58
8
Costa Rica
$47,684.65
10
Estonia
$32,023.65
11
Hungary
$26,495.33
12
Turkey
$24,705.58
13
Mexico
$22,918.20

Nurse salaries

As with any role, a higher salary often means a greater pool of applicants and therefore a higher standard of work. This is no different for nurses, so countries that offer higher pay could attract some of the most talented nurses.

Countries with highest and lowest paid nurses

Countries with the highest and lowest paid nurses

Countries where nurses earn the least

1/ Hungary

Nurse salary: US$14,988.21

Nurses in Hungary earn the least of any OECD country for which we have data, taking home $14,988.21. The US dollar does have a lot of spending power in Hungary compared to local Forint, but this still represents a very low salary on an international scale. s

Rank

Country

GP Salary (US$)

1
Hungary
$14,988.21
2
Turkey
$15,306.09
3
Mexico
$16,401.33
4
Estonia
$19,833.38
5
Czech Republic
$22,653.29
6
Greece
$22,708.55
7
Slovenia
$28,660.79
8
Chile
$32,262.74
98
Italy
$32,645.01
10
Costa Rica
$34,630.63

Countries where nurses earn the most

1/ Luxembourg

Nurse salary: US$108,787.38

Luxembourg is the country with the best-paid nurses, with salaries as high as $108,787.38. This excellent level of pay is part-due to the expensive cost of living in the small European country, but it still trounces the pay of any other nation, being as much as $20,000 more than second place Iceland.

Rank

Country

GP Salary (US$)

1
Luxembourg
$108,787.38
2
Iceland
$88,107.22
3
United States
$79,400.00
4
Belgium
$77,844.92
5
Switzerland
$75,637.31
6
Norway
$66,986.48
7
Israel
$66,502.51
8
Netherlands
$63,105.42
98
New Zealand
$57,460.59
10
Ireland
$57,400.07

Wherever you move, go with total peace of mind

At William Russell, we have nearly 30 years of helping expatriates finding best places in the world to move abroad and settle into their new lives overseas by providing world-class international health insurance. Plus, we produce lots of expert material to help you and your family adapt to life abroad. Check out our list of countries with the best healthcare in the world.

Making the move to another country can be challenging. But no matter where you go, you can take one thing off your mind. William Russell offers international health insurance that covers you for everything from minor injuries to long hospital stays, and we can even offer medical evacuations to patients who require treatment in other countries.

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Methodology

We wanted to assess the levels of healthcare provision in different countries around the world. To do this, we used OECD data to compare countries based on a range of different factors which indicate just how good each country’s healthcare system is for locals and expats alike.

The data we used was for 2019, as this was the most recent year for which a comprehensive dataset was available. However, the number of OECD countries included may vary for each factor, as not all countries report figures for each variable.