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Health in Panama - Panama has great health care

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Health Care when Living in Panama

Panama Health Care is excellent

Good health care in PanamaThe fabulous weather, beautiful scenery and friendly people in Panama are all well and good - but affordable, quality medical care may just be your number one priority when considering living in Panama.

As more foreigners move to Panama more companies – both Panamanian and international – are starting to provide insurance in Panama. They include:

Alico (part of the AIG group, which offers only group coverage) International Health Insurance Denmark a/s (Danish) British American moving to Panama!

If it is, the great news is, mediacal care in Panama is high quality with super modern facilities as well as being relatively inexpensive. This fact is particularly of relief to anyone coming from the US with inadequate health care insurance - to know that they can actually afford to get treated for a change! Phew, that’s a relief!

Many people considering retirement in Panama worry about the quality of health care, but such worries are unfounded here. Good quality health care and modern hospitals are available throughout the country. Obviously the best hospitals are to be found in Panama City but David also has an excellent hospital.

For normal health issues local clinics will look after you very well. For serious problems though get your self to a major hospital though as medical care out in the sticks is a bit rough and ready!

Many Panamanian doctors are U.S.-trained, and hospital standards are on par with what you would find in North America or Europe. Particularly appealing to those looking to retire in Panama is an important additional advantage: Private health insurance is available in Panama and much less expensive than insurance in the United States. For people retiring from the UK, living in Panama means they can get treated immediately (and not have to wait years on a waiting list for the National Health) and be able to afford the cost.

Health Insurance

Great health care in Panama In Panama, health insurance is normally sold by “brokers” who act as the middleman between the customer and the insurer. The brokers are not usually loyal to one insurance company or another, and can quote you a variety of options and different rates of coverage.

The variables in healthcare coverage are usually the age and health of the person to be covered, the type and quality of the coverage, your(as a patient)flexibility to choose hospitals and doctors (or do you have to use the ones prescribed by the insurance company), and the amounts of deductibles. If you are young (20’s to 30’s) in good health, you can get basic coverage for as little as $60 per month and excellent coverage for up to $130 per month.

The older you are, the more you'll pay.

If you are looking to save money, pay outpatient visits, lab work and exams out of your own pocket because they are relatively cheap. For example outpatient treatment is very reasonable ranging from $5 a visit for a general practitioner in the inner city/countryside, to $50 for a specialist in a private clinic. Then acquire a legitimate "catastrophic" insurance policy, with a high deductible from an established insurance company to cover the life & death situations that you could never afford to pay for.

It is good to know that prices for prescription drugs are low too in Panama, because pharmaceutical companies price them for the market. Plus, many drugs that require a prescription in the States or in Europe are available over the counter in Panama.

Hospitals in Panama

According to Rebecca Tyre, Panama is famous for a lot of things but it should also be known for its great mediacal care system.

Panama has two systems - public and private. The public institutions are run by the Caja de Seguro Social (Social Security System). Working Panamanians have a set amount deducted from their pay check; in return they receive free health care and prescription medication from hospitals and clinics within the Social Security System.

The care is good in the public system, but foreigners and Panamanians with extra money usually opt for insurance with the private hospitals. The most popular private hospitals in Panama City are:

Hospital Punta Pacifica - the only Johns Hopkins associated hospital in Central America. This hospital is NICE! Located in Punta Pacifica, this is probably the most expensive in Panama, but if you have the money (or private insurance) it’s a great bet. Most of the doctors practicing here speak English. Walking through this hospital you get the feeling that you are in an upper end hotel as opposed to a hospital. The hospital has a great substance abuse clinic (alcohol and drugs).http://www.medicaltourismpanama.com/hospital_punta_pacifica.html

Clinica Hospital San Fernando- Located on Via Espana in Panama City, San Fernando hospital is another great choice for medical care. The rooms are clean and nice and the staff is very friendly. San Fernando Hospital is affiliated with the Miami Children’s Hospital, Tulane University and Miami’s Baptist Health Center. This was Panama’s first private hospital and has a great track record and state of the art technology. San Fernando is also about to open a clinic in Coronado, a tourism and vacation hot spot on Panama’s Pacific Coast. You can easily find English speaking doctors in both locations.http://www.hospitalsanfernando.com/en/home/index.htm

Hospital Nacional - Hospital Nacional began as primarily a women’s hospital more than 35 years ago. It is now an 80 bed facility with more than 100 specialists working out of it. At Hospital Nacional, the nurse to patient ratio is one nurse to 10 patients. The hospital is located in Bella Vista on Ave Cuba. Hospital Nacional accepts international medical care plans as well as ambulatory and emergency care for US veterans. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hospital_Nacional

Centro Medico Paitilla - Located in Punta Paitilla, this is one of Panama’s oldest private hospitals and a favorite among wealthy Panamanians. Expect the majority of doctors here to speak English. The hospital is probably best known for its state of the art oncology unit. The website for the hospital is under construction, so don’t expect to get too much information from it.

Larger towns in Panama’s interior provinces also have private and public hospitals, but for the most part are smaller than the ones in Panama City and it can be difficult to find a doctor that speaks English. The Chiriquí private hospital in Chiriquí has a good reputation.

Vaccinations Needed in Panama

There are no compulsory vaccinations when visiting Panama (unless you are entering the country from a place with Yellow Fever such as Columbia) but you may feel some are imporant to have. For full information go to Vaccinations for Panama

List of doctors in Panama

For a list of 4000 doctors in Panama ranked by specialization go to: http://infonetsa.com/pamed/_private/e/search.cfm

Health Insurance in Panama

As more foreigners move to Panama more companies – both Panamanian and international – are starting to provide insurance in Panama. They include:

Alico (part of the AIG group, which offers only group coverage)

International Health Insurance Denmark a/s (Danish) British American

Capital Insurance

Among the leading Panamanian companies are:


Compañía Internacional de Seguros, S.A.

Aseguradora Mundial de Panamá, S.A. (who bought the Mutual’s portfolio), and

Aseguradora Ancon

Health insurance in Panama is basically divided into two major types:

1. Local HMOs (coverage only for Panama)

2. International policies (open policies as well international ones with the HMO concept, working through an established network of doctors, labs and hospitals).Local HMO-style policies are useful if you anticipate needing coverage only in Panama.

Coverage varies widely, but generally is between US$300,000 and US$500,000. You are limited to a select group of doctors and hospitals. Go outside the group, and you will be reimbursed for just 60% of would have been paid to the preferred provider.


Deductibles on these policies run from just $300 to $500 annually per insured person.

International coverage, as the name implies, extends to any country in the world where you incur medical expense. The amount of coverage varies from $700,000 to $1.5 million for the life of the policy.

All companies require you to have a Panama residence – with the exception of the International Health Insurance Denmark a/s. With IHI, which is based in Copenhagen, you can pretty much live any place in the world.

International coverage is clearly most suited to people who travel frequently.

Keep receipts

The other companies will cover your expenses generated anywhere in the world, but through reimbursement. This means, you pay the bill, bring home the receipts, and present the claim to the broker for processing.

Since the U.S. is an important destination for Panamanians, the other companies have established relations with a network of hospitals and doctors through an administration company in the U.S.

You need only to present your health insurance card in the U.S. and the service is provided and billed directly.

It is important always to contact the assigned administrative company. The deductible available for international coverage varies from $1,000 to $10,000 per year. Again, the exception is the Danish company, whose deductibles vary from $250 a person per year up to a $10,000.

Premiums rise with age

Health insurance carriers review their rates annually and adjust them based on their experience in the market and/or the claim experience of a particular client.

You can also expect an increase in premium when you move from one age bracket to another. Increases vary, but are generally in the range of 5% to 30%, depending on your particular case.

For information on Medical Tourism in Panama go to

Medical Tourism