If you plan to retire abroad and want to access a high quality healthcare you can afford, then Panama may be the perfect place for you. Modern hospitals and clinics are available throughout the country. Considering the country’s size, you’re more likely just an hour away from a modern facility, regardless of where you choose to live. Many doctors also speak fluent English as many of them study and work in English speaking countries just after finishing their initial training in Panama.
Panama’s Hubs and Major Facilities
The densely inhabited, cosmopolitan capital hosts a lot of good facilities, with four major private hospitals being one of the best in the region. These medical centers include Centro Medico Paitilla, Hospital Nacional, Clinica Hospital San Fernando, and the Johns Hopkins International-affiliated Hospital Punta Pacífica. Hospital Punta Paciíica is a state-of-the-art medical center of Latin America known to be the only one with U.S. affiliations.
International certifications and accreditation given by the likes of Joint Commission International (JCI) also help to elevate Panama’s standards in global health care. San Fernando Hospital Clinic is the first private hospital in Panama to receive a JCI gold-star rating. The San Fernando Hospital Clinic, founded in 1949, has recently opened its small but well-equipped satellite facility in the beach hub of Coronado, only an hour away from the capital.
Some other hub towns with hospitals and clinics include Chitré, Santiago, David, and Las Tablas. Popular expats towns such as Boquete and Pedasí have smaller public clinics, and are near to bigger facilities in David and Chitré, respectively.
Doctors and facilities found on these clinics and hospitals are on par with the facilities you’ll find in the U.S. or Canada. In fact, many expats in Panama claimed that they received more personalized care in Panama compared to what they received back home. This holds true for dentistry in Panama as well— attracting numerous medical tourists to Panama.
Of course you can also find a lot of pharmacies in Panama, with the Arrocha and Metro chains being the most well-known stores. Pharmacies are also available in hospitals and supermarkets. The El Rey chain is available in many of its supermarkets, offering 24-hour-service – which means you can interact to pharmacist any time of the day. Prescription drug prices are also low because manufacturers price them directly for the market. Additionally, some drugs which require a prescription in other places are offered over the counter in Panama.
Lastly, health insurance options are available to expats in Panama and they are much less expensive compared to the U.S. This is because the doctor’s fees and hospital visits are significantly cheaper. A part of this is also because the starting salaries are still low, despite the rapid numbers of middle class (presently more than 40% of the population, increasing from only 28% in 2002).
Also, malpractice insurance is very low given that Panamanian law doesn’t allow frivolous lawsuits. For information about health insurance we recommend click here.
Myth About Buying Healthcare Insurance from a Broker
Many of you may have heard the myth online that in Panama, if you buy healthcare insurance from a broker, you will pay 30% – 50% more. That simply is not true. However, that does not mean that there are bad brokers, that may try to up charge an expat more for the insurance, you centennially have to consider that. Maybe the people spreading this myth, were duped by a bad broker.
The Healthcare insurance person that we will connect you with on our tour, will give you a quote, and feel free to go directly to the company and get your own quote, and you will see that they will be virtually the same.
The reason we recommend you go thru a reputable broker, is the help you may need in a time of crisis and the experience they provide if something does go wrong. Let me give you an example. On one of our recent tours, we had a medical emergency where a guests needed an ambulance, surgery and hospital stay.
Since we use our recommended broker for our company’s accident insurance, we contacted her, told her what was going on, she reached out to her network, found the best surgeon for what we needed, told us which hospital to go to, and asked the surgeon meet the ambulance at the hospital. She worked with the guests spouse over the next few days on the insurance, making sure everything was in order for reimbursement, acting as an adviser between the guests and the insurance company, and helped with getting a wheelchair and walker for the recovery period, and was just there to assist in whatever they needed.
Remember, the insurance company want to get away with paying the least they possible can, they are not your friend, but the broker is, as you are their client, and they work for you.
What if you moved to Panama, got insurance directly with an international insurance company, yourself, and something happened to your spouse. Would you have a 24/7 local English speaking person to call to help you through out the ordeal? Help in selecting the right doctor, and hospital, in dealing with the language barrier, probably not, but that is what the right broker can do for you.
The cost of full coverage healthcare in Panama varies in your age, deductible selected, and any pre-existing conditions,.I will use myself as an example. In my town of Boquete, a doctor’s visit is $12, blood tests, $12, and an x-ray is $18. I am 55 years old and have a plan with full 100% coverage with a $1000 deductible in Panama, for less than $2000 a year. Someone 65, will pay closer to $3,600 a year. There are less expensive options, like co-pay private hospital plans, catastrophic insurance, and a Healthcare broker can give you all the options, and help you decide what is the best fit for your healthcare needs in Panama.
When you come with us on one of our Retire in Panama Tours, you will get some one on one time with health care practitioners and health insurance agents to educate you on health care in Panama.
Retire in Panama Tours
It’s more than a tour . . it’s an experience.