A 2010 Commonwealth Fund survey showed that 85 percent of French adults are confident they'd get the most effective treatment if seriously ill, versus 70 percent of Americans. Though Americans abroad can collect Social Security, Medicare coverage stops at the border.
Medical care in Western Europe is widely praised, but care in other areas can vary widely. Michael Weldon, a 69-year-old American in Buenos Aires, just had knee replacement surgery. "The health care's better than [in] the U.S," he says. Hugh Leong, a 65-year-old American in Thailand, doesn't buy insurance because high-quality care is so affordable, he says. Treatment for a pinched nerve at "the best hospital in town" cost him $77. Of course, there's a reason so many world leaders trek to the U.S. for care -- in highly complex procedures U.S. hospitals have much to offer.
Photograph by Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg