Countries with Free or Universal Healthcare

Providing free-of-cost medical care is not free. The nation’s citizens generally fund medical care provided by governmental agencies. The country’s medical care budget comes from taxes or the payroll tax, which ultimately affects citizens’ in-hand payments. In most countries, universal medical care is provided to patients. Patients have to pay a minimal or certain amount of fee every time they visit a doctor or hospital. Sometimes, they pay in advance and fill out a remuneration form to the governmental agencies afterwards. Patients even have to recompense insurance programs under the government. This is the reason why free medical care needs money frequently.
Citizens of a particular nation pay a minimal amount, while visitors or tourists who are not a part of the country’s healthcare system must pay more than citizens.

Basic Difference Between Universal and Free Health Care

Both the terms, free healthcare and universal healthcare, are different from each other. These terms are utilised interchangeably yet are not analogous.
Free health care refers to all the citizens of the nation receiving medical care services without paying any amount, whereas Universal health care refers to the system of health care that gives free services to the major per cent of the population. Major per cent means around a threshold value of 90 or 99 per cent of the population.
Both the systems, universal healthcare and free healthcare, have subsidised factors paid by the citizens’ taxes.

Which System of Health Care Provides Universal or Free Health Care?

Countries mainly utilise four important frameworks to deliver medical care to patients. All four frameworks that are employed by the respective countries are discussed below –

  • Out of Pocket – Patients must pay to hospitals or doctors to receive care and treatment. Insurance is nonexistent, or it is limited. This system of framework is neither universal nor free. Some countries that use the budget system are Cambodia, Armenia, Chad and Nigeria.
  • National Health Insurance – A country providing national health insurance is also considered single-payer. In this framework system, medical care is usually provided with the help of private facilities, but the government deposits the bills for health care. Some of the countries that are utilising this framework are South Korea, Taiwan and Canada. In these countries, patients also have a system for coinsurance.
  • The Bismarck Model – As in the National Health Insurance, many facilities provided by healthcare are private. Nevertheless, the country’s citizens using the national health insurance system must purchase medical insurance, which is controlled or supervised by the government and provides several benefits. Generally, health insurance is non-profit and is paid through payroll or payroll taxes deductions. Individuals with low earnings get subsidies for medical insurance from the government. Some countries have adopted this system of framework to deliver universal medical care to their citizens. They are Japan, the Netherlands, France, Germany and others.
  • The Beveridge Model – This is another framework that gives citizens of the country what they have in mind as free medical care. Similar to the national health insurance model, the country’s government utilises taxes to pay for health care. In this framework system, many medical care facilities are run and owned by the government, unlike the Bismarck or national health insurance models. The NHS in the United Kingdom, designed and planned by William Beveridge, is one of the most popular Beveridge medical care systems. Some countries that use this system are New Zealand, Spain, Hong Kong and Cuba.

Where to Find Free Medical Care?

Health care in public does not signify perfect medical care. This is one of the reasons why the major population buys supplemental health insurance to receive faster and better quality of care and treatment from the private health care providers despite the nation having government-funded medical care for its citizens.

Only a single country provides free healthcare to everyone in Brazil. The government of Brazil demonstrates medical care or healthcare as a universal right for everyone. Any individual residing in the nation, whether it be visitors visiting the country for a short period, can avail of the benefits of free health care.

As per the Hudson`s Global Residence Index, 43 Nations worldwide provide free and universal medical care to 90% of their population. Still, the standards vary largely among the countries. Norway is the first nation globally to instigate free medical care services in 1912. It is also the healthiest nation in the world. Nonetheless, it consists of the Central African Republic, with the lowest life expectancies of life and also a less quantity of medical care service providers.

Country List Providing Universal and Free Medical Care Systems

The countries that offer free and universal medical care facilities to their citizens are referred to as offering health facilities and medical coverage in any form to almost 100 per cent of their residents or citizens. The individuals and employers in many of the countries that are listed below share their cost of medical care via copays, contributions and cost-share arrangements. However, the purpose of these events is to offer universal care, which generally makes medical care facilities accessible and affordable for a large part of the population living in the country. Some countries also work with a framework where the government pays the bill for some treatment or care instead of the patient.

List of Countries

  • Australia – The model of National Health Insurance runs this country’s healthcare system. Medical care offers free hospital treatment and care to all Australian and New Zealand citizens and all the permanent residents registered under this program.
  • Algeria – This country also uses the healthcare system, which the model of National Health Insurance runs. The care and treatment that is provided are free for its residents. Most of the salaried employees and the members of their families take benefit from the CNAS insurance program. And the non-salaried employees come under the CASNOS program; meanwhile, the unemployed people come under National Unemployment Insurance Fund.
  • Albania – Everyone in the country possesses a right to medical insurance. But, because of the lack of workers in Medicare, informal systems exist for budgetary payments for the services provided.
  • Argentina – Everyone living in this country can take advantage of free medical care at public health facilities.
  • Austria utilises the Bismarck framework model to provide universal medical care. And medical insurance is compulsory for everyone residing in the country over 6 months and more.
  • Brazil – Anyone in the country, whether a resident or any visitor, is eligible to get free medical care through the medical system of Brazil, which is publicly funded.
  • Belgium – This is another European nation which uses the Bismarck system framework. It has relatively greater budget costs for a European nation.
  • Botswana – All health facilities, such as hospital care, medications, and lab tests, are free-of-cost for all the nation’s citizens if they are taking the benefits of these facilities in a public healthcare facility.
  • Bhutan – The country’s constitution provides free medical care to every citizen. Visitors also receive free medical care facilities. Yet, the medical care facilities are bounded.
  • Brunei – This country provides free health care services to their citizens and individuals living permanently there.
  • Bahrain – Firstly, this country utilised the Beveridge model and, afterwards, shifted to the model of National Health Insurance. The country’s citizens receive free insurance, whereas the refugees have to pay for their part of the insurance.
  • Canada – This country uses the model of National Health Insurance, where territories and individual provinces operate medical care. The medical care system covers some of the hospital treatment and care, doctor visits, and lab tests. Yet, every territory and province differ from each other significantly.
  • Costa Rica – Every resident and citizen of this country has to pay an extra amount to get involved in the CCSS program for insurance, where medical care is provided free at the time of service.
  • Cuba – Everyone in this country is eligible for free medical care services run by the government.
  • Czechia – All eligible citizens must buy a plan for medical insurance. At the time of service, patients have to pay a small fee.
  • Cyprus – The national health insurance in Cyprus is named as GeSy. All the permanent residents and citizens in the country can take part in this health insurance, where they get a restricted amount of free care visits every year.
  • Croatia – Every citizen in the country has to participate in medical insurance, which is compulsory for all and have co-pays after receiving medical care.
  • China – This country has almost 3 insurance programs covering almost 97 per cent of its population. And most of the services need copays.
  • Denmark – The government of this country impulsively registers all the citizens of the country in the health insurance program led by the country. And all the participants or the members get free medical care facilities.
  • France – The people living in this country for over 3 months have to register themselves for the medical care system of France. Most of the medical services in this country need restricted patient copays.
  • Finland – Finland is a country where most of the medical care is given by the municipalities. Also, this country operates on the unique framework of Beveridge. All the residents who are living in Finland, whether they are citizens of this country or not, may register themselves in the healthcare system of Finland.
  • Greece recently shifted to national medical care insurance from the Bismarck model. However, the residents of this country still delineate budget costs.
  • Germany – This is the country where the Bismarck model was developed. It needs all of its residents to buy a kind of health insurance sickness fund, and is not profitable.
  • Hong Kong – This country utilises the framework system of Beveridge and the private system, which is robust in nature. Also, most medical care in the public facility needs a copay.
  • Italy – This country provides all patients with free care visits as well as hospital treatment. However, prescribed medications, lab tests and specialist visits are needed to copay from the patients.
  • Iceland – This country employs the model of Beveridge. And the patients utilising this system of the framework have to pay a limited amount at this point in time.
  • Israel – Israel announced the Law for National Health Insurance in 1995, which ultimately is universal medical care. All the patients have seen enhancing copays for their medical services.
  • Japan – Individuals living in Japan for over 3 months have to register themselves in programs for medical insurance. The government of the country allocates plans of insurance to the resident. This is so because the residents are not allowed to choose insurance plans themselves. Also, all medical services need copays.
  • Luxembourg – This country utilises the framework of National Health Insurance. The government of this country pays an amount to the service provider. However, in most cases, patients are required to proffer their reimbursement bills. Also, they have budgetary costs.
  • Kuwait – This country provides free services for medical care to everyone living in the country. However, the waiting time is long, which is the reason why the citizens opt for private service providers for medical care.
  • Maldives – This country employs national medical insurance, which gives free services of health care to all its citizens.
  • Morocco – Most of the patients still pay copays for the medical services that they are provided with. Meanwhile, this country already has universal medical care for the public.
  • Macau – All the residents and citizens living in the country who have valid identity proof are eligible for free medical care.
  • Malaysia – This country asks its residents and citizens to pay a little amount of fee for the services of medical care by the public facility
  • Mauritius – This island provides free services to all their citizens and residents.
  • New Zealand – This country uses the framework of Beveridge, where all its citizens have to pay copays for health care as well as medications. But the care from the hospital is free of cost. Additionally, if someone is wounded by accident, they will be provided with free medical care. It does not matter if the person is a tourist or a resident, or a citizen of the country.
  • Norway – The individuals who pay taxes in this country are ultimately a part of the system of medical care in Norway. All the members in this system have to pay around USD$200 per year; at that time, the government will reimburse any further expenses.
  • The Netherlands – This country follows the principle laid down by Bismarck of universal health care coverage. Patients are frequently required to make payments for copays as well as deductibles.
  • Portugal – The SNS, the country’s publicly funded healthcare framework, mandates copays at the time of service.
  • The Philippines – Every Filipino becomes registered in the PhilHealth framework, which compensates them for medical expenses. Expats are additionally able to pay to participate in the system as well.
  • Serbia – Although membership in the country’s health insurance programme is required, this nation provides free medical care at the time of service to permanent residents, citizens, as well as certain temporary residents.
  • Saudi Arabia – Although Saudi nationals are entitled to medical care at no cost, all foreigners are required to get private medical insurance.
  • Seychelles – All people have access to free basic medical services.
  • Slovenia – This country uses a national medical insurance framework which covers almost all the costs. However, the residents, as well as the citizens, have to pay some amount as copays for the services provided to them.
  • Singapore – All the residents and citizens who are living permanently in the country are required to have a savings plan for health as well as medical insurance for covering catastrophes, and it is mandatory for everyone. Many Medicare facilities are owned and run by the government of the country. Also, they control the cost of medication, which keeps the prices of the medicine within budget.
  • Sweden – Sweden uses the Beveridge framework that is run by the state government. However, it does not offer free service at the actual point in time. Most patients have to pay some charges to visit a doctor or a hospital. Patients are spared from deductibles for the remaining time of the year if they exceed their highest out-of-pocket expense for the entire year.
  • South Korea – With a few exceptions, all inhabitants are required to contribute to the National Health Insurance Programme. After a period of six months, individuals in South Korea are automatically enrolled. Residents must pay copays anytime they obtain medical care, although the total expense to the individual receiving treatment is minimal.
  • Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka is a country where all inhabitants have access to free treatment by a government-funded medical system. Yet, as a result of present economic challenges, the nation’s healthcare system needs more resources and supplies.
  • Spain – SNS employs the Beveridge framework, which is similar to the NHS in the United Kingdom, which provides free medical care in the country. All the legal residents can enrol themselves in this framework, and members are entitled to free-of-cost medical visits. The majority of examinations, treatments, and other services are free of charge.
  • Switzerland – All Swiss inhabitants, like those in Austria, Germany, as well as other Bismarck-system nations, are forced to acquire insurance for their health. They provide deductible options as well as minimal copays for the majority of services.
  • Turkey – This country offers medical care to every citizen under a national insurance framework. Expats living in this country for a minimum of a year can enrol in the country’s national insurance programme for a monthly fee.
  • Thailand – All Thai nationals are covered by three governmental health insurance programmes. Thailand’s inhabitants have access to inexpensive healthcare at the point of treatment. Expats have to carry their private insurance.
  • Tobago and Trinidad – All citizens of this country have access to cost-free basic medical care at government-funded institutions. Specialist care and medications with prescriptions may incur costs.
  • United Kingdom – The NHS of the United Kingdom is well-known across the globe for offering medical care at no charge to inhabitants and residents.
  • United Arab Emirates – Residents’ insurance varies based on the emirate. Everyone who lives in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah has access to insurance. The United Arab Emirates offers coverage through insurance to those who are not enrolled in a governmental health programme. Firms in Abu Dhabi are required to offer medical coverage for expatriate personnel as well as their families; firms in Dubai are required to offer health insurance for expatriate personnel; however, personnel have to buy coverage for their families.


The overall picture is discussed in this part of the writing. The budget for medical care in the country comes from taxes or the payroll tax, which ultimately affects the citizen’s in-hand payment. Free health care refers to all the citizens of the nation receiving medical care services without paying any amount, whereas Universal health care refers to the system of health care that gives free services to the major per cent of the population. Out-of-pocket, National Health Insurance, The Bismarck model, and the Beveridge model are the four important frameworks that are utilised by the countries in order to deliver the best medical services to the patients and the citizens of the country. Only a single country provides free healthcare to everyone in Brazil, while 43 countries provide universal healthcare to almost 90% of its citizens and residents. Further, the list of countries is provided which offer universal or free healthcare to its citizens and residents along with the framework that is employed in the country.

Author Bio: Mark Edmonds is a healthcare expert and writer at Academic Assignments, specializing in providing top-quality medical assignment help. With a keen interest in global healthcare systems, Mark offers insightful content on countries with free or universal healthcare. His expertise and commitment to academic excellence make him an invaluable asset in healthcare writing, empowering students and fostering a deeper understanding of healthcare worldwide.