Panama’s healthcare: best in Latin America?
by Brett Andrews
Panama is considered one of the best places in Latin America, which is especially impressive given its small population of 4.5 million. Johns Hopkins Medicine, considered the gold standard of care in the U.S, even operates in Panama City. Many providers speak English, which can offer comfort as you work on your Spanish, and doctors and nurses are considered to be especially compassionate.
When it comes to healthcare in Panama, there are several options available. The government provides public and subsidized healthcare to some residents, while private insurance companies offer a variety of plans. For those who don’t have access to either of these options, the country also has an extensive network of medical centers and hospitals that provide medical care at reasonable out-of-pocket rates. If you have a pensionado visa or you’re of retirement age (55 for women and 60 for men), you can get discounts on those rates, too.
Depending on your situation, it’s often best to combine public and private plans for comprehensive coverage. Many expats take this approach.
The quality of Panama’s healthcare is ranked in the top 50% of countries, but would likely be higher if not for the vast discrepancy between the quality of services in Panama City and those in rural areas. For expats in popular Boquete, they can travel to David, a hub for medicine in the region. Urgent care and primary care clinics, some of which offer house calls, are also growing in availability.
For examples on how health care varies from the U.S., visit the Hospital Nacional or Hospital Punta Pacífica websites. You’ll see transparent rate charts for gallbladder surgery, hip replacement, and maternity care. You can even make your appointments on WhatsApp.
One strategy for American emigrants is to take on private health insurance, but set a high deductible to keep insurance costs low and save money. Use this insurance for major illnesses, chronic conditions, and emergencies. For smaller issues, like allergies, toothaches, or pickleball elbow, you can pay out of pocket at your local clinic and use your retiree discount if you qualify.
The quality and ease of Panamanian healthcare is one of its top selling points, especially for retirees and young families. It also ranks tops for end-of-life care. If you have the good fortune to move to Panama, you may find you even prefer it to the United States healthcare system.
For more information on finding a physician, enrolling in the public option and more, click the Get Started button below to download our free report on Panama healthcare: