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What is Panama Health Care and Insurance Like?

When you’re looking to move to a new country, no matter what your age is, you’re probably concerned about what the availability and cost of insurance is like. This is especially true when you want to live in a tropical paradise like Bocas del Toro, Panama.

The good news is, the healthcare in Panama is some of the highest rated in the world. Not only will you find a plethora of doctors trained in the US and fluent in English, but you will find that the costs are often much less than that of comparable countries.

You should never be afraid to seek healthcare in Panama. But if you still aren’t so sure what to expect when moving there, keep reading to find out more about Panama healthcare and insurance.

Panama Health Care

Do All Doctors in Panama Speak English?

Many people are concerned when it comes to seeking healthcare in a foreign country because they’re afraid the doctor won’t speak English. In Panama, most of the doctors are trained in the United States and therefore speak a high level of English that you will find matches that of doctors from home.

Additionally, people report that the doctors in Panama are friendlier than those in the United States. Many expats have reported that they have been surprised to go to the doctors to have some symptoms checked out, only to be given the doctors personal cell phone number at the end of the appointment in case they run into any problems with the treatment prescribed.

Giving your personal cell phone number is unheard of in American healthcare systems and it shows the doctors in Panama really care about their patients on a whole new level.

Are There Lots of Doctor’s Offices and Hospitals in Panama?

Surprisingly, for such a small country, Panama has several doctor’s offices and accessible hospitals. In fact, you will likely see practices you are familiar with in the states in Panama. One example is Punta Pacifica Hospital in Panama City which is associated with Johns Hopkins International.

In most small towns you will find a local doctor that is happy to help you. If you live in a more remote area, you may have to drive to a hospital, but because the country of Panama is so small, getting to a world class hospital shouldn’t be more than an hour away. And the best part is, there is typically no wait in Panamanian private hospitals, so you can rest easy knowing if there is an emergency that you will be seen by a professional right away.

Health Insurance in Panama

Do You Need Health Insurance in Panama?

Panama has two healthcare systems, one that is public and funded by the government, and one that is private that you can buy insurance for and/or pay out of pocket as you please. Once you have a Panamanian visa, you are able to use the public system if you so choose, but many expats choose the private system because they find that it is just as cheap as the public system and the insurance plans they buy can often make it free. And many insurance plans available will cover you internationally as well.

A word of advice, if you do decide to go the insurance route in Panama, be sure that you buy your insurance directly from the company. This is because insurance brokers will charge you an unnecessary 30-40% premium. And because healthcare is so cheap in Panama to begin with, you’re better off throwing money out of a window rather than paying a 30% premium on an insurance plan.

How Much Does Health Insurance in Panama Cost?

As mentioned above, there are several different insurance plans available. Many expats choose an international plan that covers them abroad in most countries, including places like the United States and Canada. A plan like this will typically cost around $2200 a year, and that’s with a $500 deductible.

If that seems a little out of your budget, don’t be afraid to look for an insurance plan that just covers you in Panama. These plans can range anywhere from $50-$90 a month. And the best part? Most of the insurance plans in Panama will cover pre-existing conditions with a few limitations. This is a far cry from the United States where getting insurance with a pre-existing condition is like trying to win the lottery.

Are There Age Limits for Panamanian Insurance?

As you are probably aware, many American insurance companies have age limits to who they will cover. This is simply not the case with Panamanian health insurance. No matter what your age is, you will be able to get a plan for use within the country!

That being said, some international plans do have an age cut off, and this age is typically 75. But don’t worry as the doctors in Panama are so amazing that you won’t need to go anywhere else for care!

How Much Does Healthcare Cost in Panama?

Healthcare in Panama, even if you decide to pay out of pocket, is overall affordable. The reason many people get insurance is because they expect to have large procedures done, or want to decrease their cost to almost zero. And again, you are always welcome to use the public healthcare system once you have a visa, where a doctor’s appointment will cost you $2 to $5 depending on the type of doctor or specialist you see. And don’t forget, with a residency visa, you also get a 20% discount on all doctor’s visits and 10% off your prescriptions.

Below is a chart giving you an idea of how much you can expect to pay for certain items in the Panama Healthcare system.

Healthcare Cost in Panama

As you can see, even if you decide to skip the insurance, your costs for healthcare in Panama will be so low that it won’t damage your wallet. This is one reason that many people choose to retire in Panama, especially if they foresee themselves needing a lot of healthcare which would be expensive to get in the states!

How Much Do Prescriptions Cost in Panama?

Like everything else on the list above, prescriptions are also affordable in Panama. In general, most expats report being about to pay most of their prescriptions using a $10 bill. Occasionally some will exceed this cost, but you will never see a multi-hundred-dollar charge for a prescription prescribed by a doctor within the country of Panama. This is something that is much different than the United States where something as simple as a Psoriasis cream can cost $170 for a tube.

Final Thoughts

Overall, if one of the things stopping you from moving to Panama is worry over the healthcare system, then it’s time to lay this fear to rest because healthcare in Panama is simply the best. You may have to shop around a bit and decide if you like the private or public system better, but once you make a decision, you will love being able to get all the preventative and emergency care you need at a price that is absolutely affordable!

Interested in learning more about Panama? Ask us about our Exploration Tour and get a taste of Panama!

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