Even though medical care is super affordable in Panama, it’s a good idea to have insurance just in case of a medical emergency.
A routine doctor visit is usually less than $20. If you see a specialist, it could cost $50. These prices are without using insurance.
But if you are rushed to the emergency room and must be admitted to the hospital or need emergency surgery, it could cost thousands of dollars.
I know one man who paid $50,000 for heart surgery in Panama (with no insurance). When I was in the hospital for nine days with Covid, the bill was $15,000!
You have several choices for insurance in Panama:
OPTION 1: You can get insurance that only covers you in Panama. For a 65-year-old, it’s about $102 per month. But there’s a catch… to get this insurance, you must be fully vaccinated for Covid and have no pre-existing conditions. They will not write a new policy for those over 74 years old. This article has information about Panama health insurance options.
OPTION 2: If you live in Panama City, some hospitals offer an insurance plan covering people up to age 90. They do not require you to be vaccinated for Covid and are more lenient about pre-existing conditions. If you are overweight, the premium is a 20% increase. A 65-year-old will pay about $180 a month.
OPTION 3: You can get international health insurance that covers you worldwide. No Covid vaccines are required, but they will not insure pre-existing conditions. A 65-year-old will pay about $350 per month. The price goes up every year. If you get a higher deductible, you can reduce your monthly expenses.
We have a list of reliable health insurance brokers in the Online Complete Panama Relocation Guide. They can give you more details about your “Panama Only” health insurance options.
OPTION 4: You can use the public hospital. There is no monthly fee. It’s about $2 to see a doctor. But if you need a major surgery, like heart surgery, there is usually a long waiting list. So, it’s not a good option if you have pre-existing medical conditions.
OPTION 5: Some travel insurance companies offer an annual plan that covers up to $100,000 in emergency medical coverage in Panama. It’s about $1500 for a 65-year-old for the annual plan. This is available for people from any country. Read their fine print about pre-existing conditions. Some include medical evacuation in an emergency.
OPTION 6: If you’re a US citizen eligible for Medicare, you can convert to a Medicare Advantage plan covering Panama’s medical emergencies. If you are already paying for Medicare Part B, converting to a Medicare Advantage plan is usually no extra expense. The good news is that you are also covered in the United States. And, if you get the right Medicare Advantage plan, you can get medications shipped to Panama to save money. There are no age and pre-existing condition restrictions with a Medicare Advantage plan.
Watch this Livestream about using Medicare Advantage in Panama. The video description has a link to schedule a free consultation with Jeff about your Medicare or Medicare Advantage options. (must be a US citizen to qualify)
Regardless of which insurance you select, pick one to avoid expensive surprises.