For coronavirus (COVID-19) travel information, see our FAQ.

Healthcare Costs Are One of the Reason People Move to Panama

A report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that in 2017 insurers will raise the premiums for plans sold through HealthCare.gov by an average of 22 percent — about triple the 7.5 percent increase from 2015 to 2016.  In some states, the premiums will go up as much as 30-100%.

Mauldin Economics recently reported The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which at this point should be renamed EECA (Excessively Expensive Care Act), is in its death throes.

Let me just recap some of the most vital facts for you:

  • A family of four making $60,000 per year could spend almost one-sixth of their pretax income on health costs (premium plus deductible) before receiving any insurance payment.
  • In 2017, insurance premiums in many states will rise by 30%-40%—further squeezing middle-class Americans who make too much to be eligible for a tax credit and too little to be able to afford the high premiums and deductibles.
  • More and more insurers throw in the towel because financial input vs. output just doesn’t add up for them. In 2016, 225 counties in the US had only one health insurance carrier in the ACA marketplace. In 2017, that number will rise to 650 counties.

Prices for health insurance just keep going up!  Many people who come on a Panama Relocation Tour report that they are spending $700 – $1000 per month EACH on health insurance with very high deductibles and less coverage every year!

SO, WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

With health care cost rising, more Americans than ever are choosing to move to Panama so they can significantly reduce their health care and health insurance costs.

In Panama, healthcare expenses are based on the local cost of living which is much less than the United States or Canada.  In addition, frivolous lawsuits are non-existence in Panama so malpractice insurance is very low for doctors.  For these reasons, Panama healthcare and health insurance cost a small fraction of what they would cost in the North America.  Despite the lower costs, the quality of care is high.

A routine doctor visit is $12 to $25 in Panama.  That’s not a co-pay.  That is the total cost without insurance.  A specialist is $40 to $50.  If you need to go to the emergency room, it will set you back $25 an hour.  These are the prices without insurance.

No monthly fee for the public hospitals & no age restrictions!

Eye Exam in PanamaMany expats living in Panama self-insure because the costs are so low.  They can take advantage of the public hospitals where it is only $2 to see a doctor, $5 for a specialist, and $10 a day if you are hospitalized.  A friend was hospitalized with a heart attack a few years ago.  After 10 days in the public hospital, his cost was less than $1000 including MRIs, Cat Scans, and medications.

Because health insurance is so affordable in Panama I think it is wise to get health insurance when you can afford to.  With a higher deductible, you can reduce your monthly or annual premium.  Health insurance prices will depend on your age.

You have several choices for health insurance.

You can get insurance which only covers you in Panama.  Or, you can get international health insurance which will cover you in Panama, the United States, or any other country.  These plans usually require that you are under 74 on the day you sign up but then they cover you for as long as you pay the premium.    Some insurance companies may exclude pre-existing conditions for the first year or two then cover the condition after that.

Medical care in PanamaI have international health insurance with United Healthcare.  At 65, I pay $2500 a year with a $500 deductible then I’m covered covered 100% up to $4,000,000 per year.  International health insurance means I’m covered at any hospital or doctor in Panama or the United States or any other country

Before moving to Panama, I tripped on a blanket and fell down the stairs at my house in Dallas.  I damaged my eyes and had to have two eye surgeries in Texas.  I thought my eyes would be excluded from my insurance in Panama but it was not.

Since moving in Panama, I have had several more eye surgeries including a lens replacement.  My international health insurance covered the cost of both surgeries in Panama.  I can honestly say that the quality of the care I got in Panama was far superior to the care I got in Texas.

No age restrictions available too!

Another affordable option for health insurance in Panama, is a health insurance plan offered through some of the private hospitals.   With this insurance, there is no age restrictions, no deductible, and they cover pre-existing conditions after the first year.  This plan covers 80% of your costs.   But with costs so low for a doctor visit or a hospital stay, your out of pocket expense is still very low.

A 68 year old woman who came on my tour then moved to Boquete is paying $102 per month for this health insurance plan.  You can even get a discount if you pay for 3-6 months in advance.

Some Panama health insurance companies will not issue insurance until you are living in Panama.  You’ll need to prove that you are renting in Panama or have bought a house.  And they will have have restrictions about how long you can back in your home country to stay insured (usually 6 months maximum).  So, you cannot buy insurance in Panama at the much lower price then move back to the United States full time.

Shop around for health insurance.  But BEWARE that many insurance “brokers” or agents charge 30-50% more for health insurance.  You’ll save money by buying your insurance directly from the company instead of using an insurance agent.

There are other savings when it comes to health care in Panama  It cost about $50 to get your teeth cleaned.  It is less than $1000 for a dental implant.  A friend had an upper and lower eye lift in Panama City for only $2000.  These low prices are attracting medical tourist to Panama.

You can go in to any lab to order your own lab work without a doctor prescription.  I recently paid $42 for a complete lab workup.  This price did reflect a 25% Pensionado discount.

This special Pensionado discount is valid for doctor visits, hospital stays, and prescription drugs.  The Pensionado discount is for Panamanians, those with a Pensionado Visa or expat women who are over 55 or men who are over 60 who have a residency Visa.

Many Americans are moving to Panama for more affordable healthcare and health insurance.

It’s unfortunate that people in the United States don’t have an affordable solution for health insurance.  My healthy 38-year-old daughter would have to pay $397 per month for insurance with a $8,000 deductible at healthcare.gov.  She previously had to pay a $2000 a year penalty because she refused to pay those ridiculous prices for health insurance in Texas.   With a deductible that high, it is doubtful that she would ever actually get to use her insurance.

Many people in the U.S. are learning that there are very affordable health care and health insurance alternatives when they relocate to Panama.

Some doctors in Panama were educated in the United States and some are even Board Certified in the United States.  You can find any specialist in Panama that you’d find in the US too.

QUALITY HOSPITALS TOO

Punta Pacifica HospitalPanama has quality hospitals too.  Punta Pacifica Hospital, the Johns Hopkins International-affiliate, is known as one of the most technologically advanced medical centers in Latin America.  Hospital Paitilla is affiliated with the prestigious Cleveland Clinic. San Fernando Hospital is affiliated with the well-known Tulane University Health Services Center and Hospital Clinic, Baptist Health International of Miami, and the Miami Children’s Hospital. Hospital National is run by the American Hospital Management Company, which is affiliated with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Kendall Medical Center in Florida.

Hospitals, medical centers, pharmacies, dental clinics and labs are readily available in cities throughout Panama.

Prices for prescription drugs in Panama can be very low as well. They are priced for the local market.  Unless you are buying an antibiotic or a narcotic, you will not need a prescription so you can save money on unnecessary doctor visits.

WHAT ABOUT MEDICARE OR TRICARE?

Neither the U.S. Medicare program nor the Canadian Health System provides coverage for hospital or medical costs outside the United States and Canada. Some expats keep these plans then have an additional Panama only plan to keep their costs down.  Others decide to just get international health insurance then opt-out of Medicare.

Retired US military veterans are eligible for free medical and prescriptions in Panama through either the VA or Tricare.

Como No? This is a popular phrase in Panama.  It means WHY NOT.

With a more affordable cost for health care and health insurance plus the lower cost of living in Panama, COMO NO relocate to Panama?

It’s certainly worth checking out Panama to see how you can reduce your health care and health insurance costs.  Plus you’ll discover how you can live BETTER for LESS.

Our Online Panama Relocation Guide has the same information that you’d get on a 7-night Panama Relocation Tour.  You’ll receive detailed information about various health insurance companies including their direct contact information.   You’ll learn about Visa options, finding a rental, where to get affordable health insurance, how to bring your pets to Panama, and much more!   The Online Panama Relocation Guide has information to help you do a self-guided tour of Panama plus contacts if you’re interested in a private tour guide.

Or, if you’d prefer to check out Panama with a group of like-minded people, consider a 6-day 7-night all-inclusive Panama Relocation Tour!  Our March 2020 Tour was our 122nd Panama Relocation Tour!

We’re the Retire in Panama Experts!  We have the experience you can trust, and need, when making a life-changing decision to relocate to Panama.

 

Jackie Lange

Jackie Lange is the founder of Panama Relocation Tours and lives in the highlands of Boquete Panama. She has helped thousands of people relocate to Panama.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Duria Hudson Jr says

    Really super informative…please can you post the next Annual Veteran meeting.
    My email is hudson.duria@yahoo.com

    • Jackie Lange says

      The Veterans just had an annual meeting in September 2019. I’m not sure when the next meeting will be. It has not been scheduled.

  2. Kim reynolds says

    Oh my! So much great info Jackie! I can say better than IL ! U hve covered so much in these sites! Wow! I am sure its PANAMA!
    Retired single lady looking for a peaceful life of no stress! 🏝

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hi Kim

      So glad you are enjoying the information on on website! Be sure to check out our YouTube channel where we have video interviews with retired single women who relocated to Panama. See http://www.YouTube.com/PanamaRelocationTours

  3. Jean Henry says

    My husband and I are so excited to be coming to Panama in September 2020 and very seriously considering moving there permanently!! Can’t wait to meet you!

  4. Deborah Quinette says

    Hi Jackie , I was curious as to why you have international health insurance. I’m 69 and have Medicare Part A and B so I was thinking I could use that when I visit the US and get a separate policy for just Panama . Which idea do you think is best .
    Thanks
    Debbie

    • Jackie Lange says

      I had international health insurance before I qualified for medicare. Now I have medicare for the US and insurance for Panama. The International health insurance is much better than Medicare but it’s more expensive too.

  5. Deborah Quinette says

    Thanks Jackie , we’re moving to Panama in October and then applying for residency. Who would you recommend for me to get Panama only health insurance with ?
    Thanks again
    Debbie

Leave a Reply