Healthcare is a concern for most expats thinking about moving abroad. As I get older, I’m aware that at some point I will need good healthcare. When I was looking into moving to Panama, I wanted to make sure that the country could provide me with quality healthcare I could rely on for any healthcare concern or issue that may arise.
When doing my research, Panama stood out as a country making great strides in implementing and upgrading their healthcare systems. The country has excellent resources for quality care and low costs compared to North America. There are clinics and hospitals throughout Panama and many doctors working in each medical specialty are bilingual.
Doctors in Panama work for the best interests and care of each patient. I recently visited my doctor here for preventative routine care. Making the appointment was easy and I only had to wait three days for an appointment.
Most doctor’s offices require you to come to the office at the same time as others scheduled for that day and patients are seen on a first-come, first-served basis. When it was my turn, I was escorted into a room with a desk and chairs and examination table. The doctor proceeded to do the interview, screenings, and exam himself. He was very thorough with his questions. I felt that he truly was paying attention to my needs and concerns. Doctors in Panama will give you their undivided attention during an appointment for as long as you want the conversation to last.
My doctor wanted some blood work done, so I took the written request down to the lab area of the hospital. Within minutes I had my blood drawn and was told to come back in an hour for my results.
Two hours later I picked up my results and scheduled another appointment for the doctor to go over my results the next day. In Panama all tests, X-rays, and MRI’s are given to the patient to be kept by them. The next day, the doctor looked at my results, prescribed me a treatment plan, and as is often the case here, he gave me his private cell phone number in case I had any more questions.
After I had been on the medication a week, the doctor called me one evening to find out how I was doing. This was a significantly different experience to what I had been used to in the States.
If you’re a permanent visa holder in Panama, you are entitled to senior discounts for medical services. These include 15% off any medical service done in a hospital, 20% discount for medical doctor’s fees, and 10% off any pharmacy purchases. In most cases I’ve been automatically given the 20% discount at my doctor’s office. I always ask for the 15% off for blood draws, X-rays, and MRI’s.
Most expats find that their prescription bills are substantially reduced when they move here. Many medications sold in North America as prescriptions are only sold as over the counter ones in Panama.
To give you an idea of the low costs you can expect for healthcare in Panama, doctors’ visits are almost always paid in cash and will run from $50 to $100. A MRI at Hospital Chiriqui with a senior discount runs $510, a full X-ray is $25, a biopsy for skin cancer, $110, and a full blood work up runs about $40.
Dentistry in Panama is also less expensive. Several dentists in Panama are bilingual. With discounts, a cleaning will run $45, full mouth X-rays $21.50, fillings $54, and implants $3,000.
After my experience with doctors and hospitals in Panama, I am confident in the knowledge that any healthcare issue I may have to deal with in the future can be treated in Panama with the latest equipment and with caring, specialized doctors.
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