Get Quality, Affordable Healthcare in Panama
If you’re looking for quality healthcare you can afford, Panama may well be for you. Clinics and hospitals are strategically located in hubs across the country. And since the country is so small, you’re unlikely to be more than an hour from a modern facility…no matter where you choose to live. It’s also not unusual to find English-speaking doctors here, as many study abroad after finishing their initial training in Panama.
Panama’s Hubs and Major Facilities
Panama City is known throughout Latin America for its excellent clinics and hospitals. Getting to Panama City from nearly anywhere in the country is easy, whether you’re driving two hours from the mountain haven of El Valle, or flying an hour from the island paradise that is Bocas del Toro.
The compact, cosmopolitan capital is home to many facilities, with four major private hospitals considered to be among the best in the region. These include Centro Medico Paitilla, Hospital Nacional, Clinica Hospital San Fernando, and the Johns Hopkins International-affiliated Hospital Punta Pacifica. Known as the most technologically advanced medical center in Latin America, Hospital Punta Pacifica is just one of many facilities in Panama with U.S. affiliations.
Accreditations offered by the likes of the Joint Commission International (JCI) also help to highlight Panama’s high standards. The San Fernando Hospital was the first facility in Panama to obtain a JCI gold-star rating. In addition to the hospital in Panama City, founded in 1949, the renowned San Fernando group now has a small but well-equipped satellite facility in the beach hub of Coronado, 51 miles west of the capital.
Other hub towns with clinics and/or hospitals include David, Chitré, Santiago, and Las Tablas. Growing towns and expat destinations like Boquete and Pedasí have smaller clinics, and are close to larger facilities in David and Chitré, respectively.
The equipment and doctors at these clinics and hospitals are similar to what you’d find in the same facilities in the U.S. or Canada, with many expats in Panama reporting that they received more personalized care in Panama than they did back home. The same is true for dentistry in Panama—one of many fields attracting medical tourists to Panama.
Pharmacies in Panama are, of course, also plentiful, with the Arrocha and Metro chains are among the most ubiquitous. You’ll also find pharmacies in hospitals and supermarkets. The El Rey chain offers 24-hour-service in many of its supermarkets, meaning you can talk to a pharmacist any time of the day. Prices for prescription drugs are low as well, because manufacturers price them for the market. Plus, some drugs that require a prescription elsewhere are available over the counter in Panama.
Finally, private health insurance is available to expats living in Panama and is generally much less expensive than insurance in the U.S. In part, this is because doctor’s fees and hospital visits are inexpensive. It’s also because, despite a rapidly growing middle class (currently at over 40% of the population, up from just 28% in 2002), starting salaries are still low. Minimum salaries in Panama City are around $675, and in rural parts are around $525 a month. A good salary for a university graduate is generally between $1,200 and $2,000 a month. This helps keep the cost of everything from consultations to medication in check. Also, malpractice insurance is low because the laws surrounding it do not allow for frivolous lawsuits.