The one thing we at Retire in Panama Tours are, is always honest with our readers. We do not fluff things up to make them look rosy like many other sites about moving to Panama do. You need to know the truth, and you need to know what it is really like in Panama, if your plan is to move here.
Below are the three biggest myths we keep hearing about Panama’s health care system.
Myth #1: Health care insurance is cheap for expats.
Now, this can be true, but it depends when you come from and your age when you get here. If you are retiring early, and you move here in your late 50’s, you will get a quote for international health care, and say this is great, it’s only $200 a month, that’s $500 a month less than I am paying in the USA.
Well that may be true, but it is more than many Canadians pay, Australians, and even Europeans.
There are three types of healthcare insurances in Panama, each with a varying degree of differences and coverage. The international health care insurance I quote above, is mine, 56 years old, actually less than $200 a month, 100% coverage, no co-pay, $1000 outpatient deductible per year in Panama, and $5000 Out of country deductible per year. But, I already know what I am going to get from the insurance company for my 60th birthday, $300 a month, and my 65th birthday, $450 a month, and the last increase my 70th birthday, $650 a month.
If you moved here on a fixed income, and did not get this information up front, like many insurance companies will fail to tell you, you could be in trouble, not being able to afford your insurance when you get older. So you have to plan accordingly. There are different types of health care plans in Panama, maybe when you hit your 70’s you do not need international coverage any more, so you can switch to a local co-pay plan, with premiums in your 70’s of $125 a month, and you pay 30% of the medical costs, and insurer pays 70%. There are catastrophic plans, that cover 8 major situations, like major accidents, cancer, heart attack, stroke etc, where you can pay as little as $150 a month in your 70’s, but you pay for the minor things.
So there are options, and for US citizens, they are usually cheaper than back at home. But you need to know what these options are here for you as insurance can be the second highest expense in living here next to housing. So get the facts, from a reputable source, and we can help you with that.
Myth #2: I can use my medicare when I am in Panama
I hear this all the time, and I do not know where it comes from. Medicare or medicaid is a US product and it is not accepted in Panama. Some expats living here, chose to keep their Part B, and self insure here, and go back to the USA for major things, that could be an option, but also a risk for emergencies, where you do not have the options of going back. There are some VA benefits in Panama, if you qualify, that is something you will need to look into, you can contact us and we will send you in the right direction.
Myth #3: Purchasing health insurance through a broker in Panama will cost you 30% – 50% more.
I really do not know where this myth comes from either, but it is definitely not true. If you purchase health insurance through a reputable broker, you will pay basically the same as going directly to the company. The key words here are “reputable broker”. Maybe the people spreading this myth, got the run around from a broker that was not honest.
Why do you want to buy from a broker? Simple, they are in your corner. If you have a situation with your health, you can call your broker and get their advice on where to go, which hospital, and even which doctor. They are the experts; they know which hospital provides the best care for all conditions, and which doctors and specialists work in which hospital. Also, if you have trouble with a claim, the broker becomes the middle man for you between yourself and the insurance company, and they work for you, as you are their customer and they want you to renew next year. And remember, you are in Panama, all the insurance companies here deal in Spanish, and many times English is hard to find. Brokers that are used to dealing with expats will all speak English.
You really do not have to take my word here. If you go to a reputable broker, to get a quote, they will tell you the insurance company they are dealing with. Take the quote, go home, go online, find the company and get a quote from them, directly, make sure you are using the exact information that you gave the broker, and that the insurance values and deductibles match. When you get your quote back from the company, you will see they are practically the same.
Health insurance in Panama can only be purchased once you have started the residency process. If you are close to that process, or in it, and are looking for a reputable health insurance broker, go here, fill in the information and we will connect you.
It’s more than a tour . . it’s an experience.