Panama Healthcare Options If You CANNOT Get Health Insurance

Panama has several health insurance options. If you’re 60-69, one health insurance plan only costs $117 per month.

But, there are several reasons why you may NOT be able to get health insurance in Panama. Don’t worry, I’ll talk about solutions below.

So, what could prevent you from getting health insurance in Panama?

1. Currently, health insurance companies in Panama are not writing new policies for those who are older than 74. The only exception is Hospital Santa Fe in Panama City which has no age restriction for their health insurance policy for seniors.

2. If you have or have had serious chronic health conditions like cancer or diabetes, you may not be able to get health insurance in Panama.

3. Some pre-existing medical conditions may be excluded for the first two years – which means you won’t be insured for those conditions for two years.

4. If you are not vaccinated for Covid, or don’t have a medical exemption letter from your doctor, you will not be able to get health insurance in Panama.

So, what’s the solution?

Many who live in Panama self-insure, meaning they set aside savings to pay for any health care. Healthcare is affordable in Panama!

Basic medical care in Panama is super affordable. A routine doctor visit is less than $20 without insurance. Lab work is super affordable too. You can even get an EKG for less.

If you take medications, you need to research their cost in Panama. Sometimes they cost less but sometimes they are more. You need to also determine if the medications you take are even available in Panama and what they cost. Our free report about the 50 Most Commonly Prescribed Medications and Their Cost in Panama will help.

What if you have a serious health problem and it’s not covered with insurance?

Panama’s public healthcare system is a very affordable alternative for those who don’t have insurance. At the public hospitals or clinics, it’s about $2 to see a doctor, $5 for a specialist, and about $100 a day (sometimes less) if you are admitted to the hospital.

To give you an idea of the costs for a medical emergency at a public hospital:

In 2021, Carol has to have emergency surgery at the public hospital in Chitre. She was in the hospital 6 days. Her total cost was $150!

David has a heart attack. He was taken by ambulance to the public hospital in David. After 9 days in the hospital, the best cardiologist in Chiriqui province, and many lab tests including CT scans, his total bill was $895!

In 2023, Jamie went to the public hospital in Las Tablas with an emergency ,the total cost was $2!

Of course, you can also go to a private hospital in Panama, which is usually nicer, but it will cost at least ten times more than a public hospital. For example, when I had Covid in 2021, it was $15,000 to be in a private hospital for 9 days. Luckily I had international health insurance which reimbursed me but I did have to pay upfront then file a claim to be reimbursed.

If you are a US citizen with the right Medicare Advantage plan, it will cover urgent care and emergencies in Panama but you will need to pay the hospital in Panama then file a claim to be reimbursed.

So, you can see, even with no insurance, you have excellent and affordable healthcare options in Panama.

chitre panama pubic hospital
Public Hospital in Chitre

Here’s another example of medical care in Panama – written by John in Las Tablas!

So yesterday, this happened. After over a month after my graceful landing on my shoulder by missing the final step on my stairway, I finally went to see my doctor. Took my Spanish-speaking fiance with me, but the doctor speaks a little English, so I understood most of what he was saying. Good guy. From Cuba. Examined me and told me he didn’t think I broke anything or did any serious damage, but wanted me to go to the local hospital for X-rays and 2 steroid shots. (Have to get 2 more sets of shots, one set today, one set tomorrow) Cost for a 30 minute consultation? $24.

So now it’s off to the Hospital. Asked where X-ray was and a guy walked us right there. Very nice and helpful. Took two X-rays and when I asked where I needed to pay, the lady in X-ray told me there was no charge. She then pointed to a set of double doors and said I would get my shot just on the other side. Total time at X-ray? About 5 minutes.

Walked through the double doors and there’s a counter with several medical folks sitting / standing / talking. A doctor looking guy asked if he could help us. I handed him my paper from my doctor. He looked at it, handed it to a nurse and she got up and left. Five minutes later she came back, ushered me to a treatment room, told me to drop my shorts, gave me a shot in each butt cheek, and sent me on my way. Again no charge. Total time getting the shots? About 10 minutes. Again, no cost.

So for that medical care today, it cost $24 and from the time I arrived at my doctor’s office to the final procedure at the hospital, no more than an hour and a half. How cool is that? — in Las Tablas, Los Santos, Panama.


See Health Insurance Options in Panama to learn about other healthcare and health insurance options that may be available to you.

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


  1. Stacey Cornelius says

    Do you know the names of some of the public hospitals in the city?

    • Jackie Lange says

      I do not know the names of the public hospitals in Panama City. It may be on the MINSA website

  2. Prema Qadir says

    Thank you for addressing the 70+ health insurance issue.

    I will be 70 in 2023 and health insurance coverage for 70+, in Panama, is of great concern to my friends and me.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hello Prema

      Don’t worry, we have health insurance options available for those over 70.

  3. Jeanette Baker says

    What are the options for a 70 year old man with controlled diabetes? My husband and I are now rethinking Panama due to this.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hello Jeanette. Your husband has two options. He can get insurance at Hospital Santa Fe in Panama City but you would need to live in Panama City to use this insurance. There is no age restriction and they cover pre-existing conditions. Or, you can use the public hospitals which have no monthly fee, no age restrictions, and they cover pre-existing conditions. It’s about $2 to see a doctor at the public hospitals. see more details at

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