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Veterans Medical Benefits In Panama

Veteran BenefitsA Veteran is anyone who has served in the United States military or the National Guard. A retired Veteran is one who served for an entire career, usually for 20 years or more. If you register with the VA or Tricare, you could be eligible for medical care in Panama. Learn how to register below and see additional information about hospitals where you can get care in Panama.

We recently received this update from a Veterans Service Officer in Panama:

For more information go to the VSO website or contact a VSO.

In Panama retired and non-retired Veterans who were honorably discharged with a VA awarded disability of 0% to 100%, are covered under the VA Foreign Medical Program (FMP) in Panama. These Veterans are eligible for VA-FMP covered medical care and medication prescriptions in Panama at certain locations.  The veteran must register with VA-FMP. https://www.va.gov/COMMUNITYCARE/programs/veterans/fmp/index.asp

Are you thinking about moving to Panama? Check out our guide to living in panama and learn more about our relocation tours.

If you do not have a VA ID, visit a VA hospital or clinic whenever you travel back to the US with a copy of your DD214 to request a VA-ID . NOTE: The VA ID is not required for medical services overseas. You will only need your VA-FMP benefit letter listing your awarded disabilities. VA-FMP covers medical services and medications overseas for VA awarded disabilities.

NOTE: If you DO NOT have VA awarded disabilities, you WILL NOT have VA medical coverage overseas. For this reason, you should visit your nearest Veteran Service Officer (VSO) for guidance and assistance if you believe you have service-connected disabilities to claim.

Spouses, dependent children, widows and widowers of non-retired veterans, that have been declared to be 100% total and permanently (T&P) disabled by VA, are also eligible for medical services and medications under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA). https://www.va.gov/COMMUNITYCARE/programs/dependents/champva/champva_eligibility.asp

The 100% T&P non-retired veteran and his dependents are also authorized DOD ID Cards for entry into military installations. They will have access to commissaries, PX/BX and MWR in some countries although they are not available in Panama.

Dependents of retired and non-retired 100% T&P veterans are entitled to Chapter 35, Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA), to be used towards a degree in VA certified colleges and universities.

TRICARE Select, TRICARE for Life and CHAMPVA beneficiaries have a 25% co-pay for medical services and medications.

MEDICARE

medicareFor retired veterans and their spouses, ensure you sign up for MEDICARE Part-B prior to your 65th birthday. You will drop out of TRICARE and not be medically insured if you do not have MEDICARE Part-B at age 65. Manage this most important life event very carefully and don’t miss it. Permanent penalties apply if you register in MEDICARE Part-B after age 65.

Medicare Part-B is Mandatory by Law to continue TRICARE coverage, even if it does not provide coverage outside of the US.

To keep TRICARE coverage, when military retirees and their spouses turn age 65, they must enroll in Medicare Part-B and pay the standard Part-B monthly premium.

https://www.tricare.mil/LifeEvents/Medicare/Retiree_and_Family

https://www.tricare.mil/Plans/HealthPlans/TFL/TFL_O.aspx

Even though Medicare does not provide coverage outside of the US, Public Law 106-398, October 30, 2000, mandates Medicare Part-B enrollment if you wish to remain eligible for TRICARE for Life (TFL) at age 65 and beyond.

Apply for Medicare Part-B before your 65th birthday to avoid a break in TRICARE for Life coverage.

By taking a few simple steps, you can make sure you have your TRICARE benefits at age 65 and beyond.

Four months before your 65th birthday, you should receive a postcard from the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), the office that supports the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), with information about keeping TRICARE coverage at age 65 and beyond.

If you do not receive a postcard from DMDC, call them at (800) 538-9552.

You must have Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B to be eligible for TRICARE For Life, even if you live overseas and Medicare does not provide coverage.

TRICARE For Life is the Medicare wrap-around coverage for TRICARE beneficiaries who are entitled to Medicare Part A and have Medicare Part B regardless of where you live.

medical care in panamaThe Medicare initial enrollment period is seven months. If you miss your initial enrollment period, your next chance to sign up for Medicare Part B is during the general enrollment period, Jan. 1 – March 31. Your coverage will begin July 1st, and your monthly premium for Part B may go up 10 percent for each 12-month period that you could have had Part B, but didn’t sign up for it. Also, there will be a lapse in your TRICARE coverage until Part B is effective.

Overseas, your nearest US Embassy with a Social Security office can also assist with Medicare Part-B enrollment. When you tell the Embassy officer that you are retired military, or the spouse/survivor of a retired military service member, and they state you do not need Medicare Part-B overseas, they are incorrect. US Embassies overseas make this mistake and the beneficiary will be penalized by the SSA for enrolling late in Medicare Part-B to maintain TRICARE.

** Another way to enroll:

– If you are a military retiree, age 65, and already receiving SS retirement benefits, please enroll by completing Form CMS-40B.

– If you are a retiree, age 65, and have not applied for SS retirement benefits yet, please enroll in Medicare Part-B by completing Form CMS-40B or online at https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/medicare

– If you are a spouse or survivor of a retiree, aged 65, please enroll in Medicare Part-B by completing Form CMS-40B

https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms/Downloads/CMS40B-E.pdf

– You can also apply for Medicare Part-B using your online SS account

Important: when applying for Medicare Part-B and have not applied for SS retirement benefits yet, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will contact you for further information. Provide a valid phone number, and area code, where you can be contacted.

REMEMBER: If you are enrolling in Medicare Part-B to keep your TRICARE for Life benefits, you must answer “YES” when the Social Security representative asks if you want to enroll in Medicare Part-B.

**For survivors (widow/widower), on Form CMS-40B, include the following in “Remarks”:

1) Your Deceased spouse’s Name and Social Security Number (SSN) if you do not have your own SSN

2) The word “TRICARE”

3) Indicate if you are receiving benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Write “VA Survivors Pension”

4) Write “Interpreter” and the language you require, if you need translation assistance for the follow-up telephone interview

Veterans Service Officers (VSOs) are available to provide guidance and assistance. Click “VSO” on the main menu for details.

MEDICATIONS

If you are covered by VA-FMP, there is no cost for medications if prescribed for service-connected VA awarded disabilities. You should verify that the Panamanian pharmacies have the medications you need or it may be necessary to have your medications shipped in to Panama.

HOSPITAL CARE

Several hospitals throughout Panama offer services to Veterans.  In Chiriqui province, on far western Panama, Veterans use Hospital Mae Lewis.   Near Panama City, use Hospital Brisas.  A Veteran Service Office can tell you which other hospitals work with Veterans in Panama.

Hospital Brisas is a private hospital. It is NOT a VA Hospital, is not funded by the U.S. Federal Government and is in no way associated with the U.S. Federal government. Hospital Brisas, in Panama City, Republic of Panama, accepts VA-FMP, CHAMPVA, TRICARE Select and TRICARE for Life. Any deductibles apply.

If you would like to use the services provided by Hospital Brisas or be hospitalized, contact Itzi Soriano or Aracelis, Veterans Services Office, at 507-6799-4961. Email: atencionveteranos@hcapanama.com

 

hospital brisas in panama

 

Hospital Brisas occupies the complete second floor of Signature Plaza located in Brisas del Golf, Panama City.  Patients and visitors are greeted by a professional staff, an attractive and welcoming environment, well lit airy public spaces, comfortable waiting areas, and modern consulting rooms. The hospital is one of the most modern and well equipped in Panama City, with medical equipment purchased from Germany.

Hospital Brisas has been specifically built and designed around the needs of the patient to enhance the quality of care, speed up diagnosis and provide exceptional medical treatment. You will be happy with the 835 parking spaces distributed on the ground floor and underground. To access the hospital on the second floor, Signature Plaza has escalators and elevators located in the center, east, and west wings of the plaza.

The following services are provided:

*Reception Office / Information Desk at the main entrance
*VA-FMP, TRICARE, CHAMPVA Help Desk
*Outpatient specialty clinics
*Inpatient medical services
*Doctor receptionists
*Laboratory services
*Ambulatory minor surgery
*Ambulatory medical service
*Endoscopy, Colonoscopy
*Orthopedic
*Otolaryngologist (ENT)
*Urology and gynecology
*(Imaging (X-ray, ultrasound, mammography). MRI is outsourced
*24/7 emergency service
*Physiotherapy
*Insurance office for most private medical insurances accepted in Panama

Outpatient appointments, X-ray, MRI, laboratories or special procedures, please call 309-2300, Monday through Friday 8am to 4pm.

CLICK HERE for more information about Hospital Brisas

If you are covered by VA-FMP, there is no cost for medications if prescribed for service-connected VA awarded disabilities.  However, over the counter medications are not covered.

VETERAN SERVICE OFFICERS

There are Veteran Service Officers throughout Panama to offer guidance and assistance – at no charge. The Veteran Service Officers will assist and guide you with the necessary paperwork to file for medical benefits in Panama.

Veteran Service Officers Panama

Veterans helping Veterans.  Retiree mission statement:  “Our mission has changed, but our duty has not.”

This is a list of Veteran Service Officers (VSOs) available to assist you in Panama:

Butcher Operations Officer Panama City, Panama

Blis Liaison and Public Affairs Officer Panama City, Panama

Frank vso.pma.frank@gmail.com Panama City, Panama

Tim vso.chorrera.tim@gmail.com Chorrera, Panama

JR vso.chiriqui.2008@gmail.com Chiriqui, Panama

Rey vso.hospitalbrisas.rey@gmail.com Hospital Brisas, Panama City

David vso.chitre.david@gmail.com Chitre, Azuero Panama

CLICK HERE for more information about the Veteran Service Offices and the support they can provide to you

veteran service officers in panama

VETERAN MEETINGS

I’ve heard there are 800 Veterans in Chiriqui Province in far western Panama.  I don’t know how many Veterans are in all of Panama.    The Veterans in David get together for coffee on Wednesday mornings.  The Veterans in Boquete have a meeting every Thursday.  You can get information about other Veteran meetings by contacting the Veteran Service Officer closest to the town where you live in Panama. See the list above of Veteran Service Officers in Panama.

There is an Annual Veterans Meeting in Panama City sponsored by HealthAlliance, Panama. Key guest speakers from VA and other agencies are invited. The meeting is followed by a luncheon where veterans and their spouses have the opportunity to meet and know veterans from all over Panama.  CLICK HERE to see details about the next Annual Veterans Meeting

WHAT IS COVERED?

(a) Using TRICARE insurance, medical services and medications at hospitals and/or pharmacies that accept TRICARE. The veteran that has TRICARE insurance must be prepared to pay cash up-front. Many hospitals reserve the right to accept or decline TRICARE. Ensure detailed receipts are secured from the hospital to submit reimbursement claims to TRICARE. You have 3 years to submit your claim from overseas. Claims can be submitted online once you create a TRICARE account at http://www.tricareoverseas.com/Beneficiaries.htm

(b) VA Foreign Medical Program (FMP) is for VA awarded disabilities from 0% to 100%. VA awarded disabilities are 100% covered overseas if listed on the VA-FMP letter.
http://www.va.gov/PURCHASEDCARE/programs/veterans/fmp/index.asp

Does the veteran have to pay for services in advance then reimbursed by the VA?

(a) If the disability is listed on the VA-FMP award letter, the veteran does not have to pay for medical services or medications. HealthAlliance, Panama, will provide the medical services and prescribed medications, then bill VA-FMP directly.

(b) Medical services for non-service connected disabilities, not listed on the VA-FMP letter, must be paid by the veteran. VA will not reimburse non-service connected expenses. If the veteran has TRICARE insurance, then a reimbursement claim can be submitted to TRICARE.

If you have questions or require assistance, contact one of the VSOs in the area where you reside in Panama.

HELP!  IF YOU DO NOT QUALIFY for Veteran benefits in Panama, don’t feel like you are stuck living close to a VA Hospital in the US. In Panama, a routine doctor visit is $10 to $15 without insurance. Once you get a residency Visa in Panama, you can use the Social Security or public Regional Hospitals in Panama where it is only $1.50 to see a doctor and get substantial discounts on medications. Medical care is much more affordable in Panama.. and I personally think the quality of care is much better too. Health insurance is available even if you have preexisting conditions.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

MEDICARE cannot be used in Panama. Veterans cannot cancel MEDICARE Part-B at any time or you will dropped out of TRICARE and not be insured.

In the United States, all veterans are entitled to 100% care at any VA hospital, service-connected or not.

Overseas, veterans can only receive medical care and medications for service connected disabilities rated at 0% to 100%. The VA ID must state “Service Connected” under the picture and the veteran must be registered in FMP.

I know it all sounds complicated.

Living in CoronadoBut understand, if you are a retired Veteran or were in the military and discharged with a disability (even 0%), you may be eligible for free medical and prescriptions in Panama. A Veterans Service Office in Panama can help you get set up for these services. Contact  http://www.vsooverseas.com/for more details

Come and enjoy tropical Panama with the thousands of veterans and other expats who have made Panama their retirement home.

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. Joe Devermann says

    Do you know when the annual health alliance meeting
    is in Panama?

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Joe

      I don’t know when the meeting is but I will find out and let you know.

    • JR says

      Annual Veteran’s meeting can be in October, November or December. Month and date is always announced one month prior by HealthAlliance Panama. Veterans, affiliated to HealthAlliance, are notified via email.

      • dekalb65 says

        Thank You

  2. Robert Madison says

    I’m new to Panama city Panama and would like information on veterans representative locations in or near Chame area if any. Or will I have to travel to Panama city to obtain the most important information that I will need.

  3. Ruben Ditary says

    Also your attorney in panama for any legal problem he is a retired sf medic

  4. JD says

    Hello, my family lives in Panama and I have contacted two VSOs regarding two different circumstances and would like to know an approximate time of reply. Thank you very much!

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hello I’m sorry the VSO officers have not contacted you. Perhaps they are on vacation. Usually JR is the most responsive – you can reach him at vso.chiriqui.2008@gmail.com

  5. Cheryl Sherman says

    Are there any special programs for retired law enforcement individuals from the US? Thank you!

    Cheryl

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Cheryl, There are no special programs for US law enforcement in Panama. If you are retired, you can take advantage of the Pensionado discounts for medical, airlines, restaurants, etc.

  6. chuck burgess says

    good afternoon. I keep trying to contact healtalliance via their web site but it does NOT work. Just trying to get more info before actually moving there this fall, we have already completed our pensionado visas. Really just looking for VA/ Tricare info. Thanks

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Chuck, I suggest you contact one of the Veteran Service Officers listed in the article. They can answer your questions about VA benefits in Panama. JR at We Care Pharmacy in David is a good place to start.

  7. Timothy Ewing says

    I have been in Panama for 12 years, am 50% service connected, had no idea this group/chapter existed. Can someone please provide me with a updated email or number to call. I am trying to see how I can get coverage in Panama for an injury I have. Thanks in advance.
    Timothy

  8. Israel Guadalupe says

    What is the difference between non service connected and service connected?

    • Jackie Lange says

      Israel, a service connected injury is an injury that happens when you are in the service (military) versus injuries that happen when you are not in the military.

  9. stan lundstrom says

    I am a 100% disabled veteran looking to relocate as an ex pat to Panama, Costa Rica,Colombia in the near future and wondering if I would be covered in the other two above countries.

    • Jackie Lange says

      I’m only familiar with the rules in Panama. I would assume that you’d be covered in the other countries but you should contact a VSO (Veterans Service Officer) listed in the article to confirm.

  10. Ron says

    Retired Military, still working age, considering a move with my wife to panama. I have a handfull of meds to take, how do i get those transfered to a doctor, pharmacy, or hospital there in Panama and still have tricare pay for them. Also would find a primary care doctor there to manage my care? If so where can i find a list of them? Lastly is Brisas the better hospital that takes tricare or do others such as punta pacifica and do they have a wide variety of specialists on their staff?

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Ron

      Several other hospitals in Panama will file for Tricare. I suggest you contact a VSO ( Veteran Service Officer) for more details about hospitals and medications. The VSO’s are listed in the article about Veteran Medical Benefits.

  11. paul l muse says

    I am moving too boquete in febuary and I am a veteran with 80% disability where is closet for medical care is it david

    • Jackie Lange says

      Medical care is readily available in Boquete. The small public hospital is $2 for a doctor visit or you can go to the doctor’s office for $12. I believe you can take advantage of your VA benefits at Mae Lewis hospital in David – but often it is not worth the drive when medical care is so affordable in Boquete.

  12. Gia says

    The Boquete Veteran Outreach (BVO on Facebook) meets the third Wednesday of the month at restaurant Sabroson#4 on via Boquete (Rt 41) in Alto Boquete

  13. Robert Raksnis says

    This is really good info. My wife and are planning a move to Panama in about a year, and, as a veteran, this is very helpful. Thanks again.

  14. Jessie Taylor says

    I use an electric oversized wheel chair ,want to relocated there , disabeled veteran need info on n how to get around and accessibility there,im alone in life..Jessie

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI Jessie

      Unfortunately, Panama is not very handicap-friendly. There are no services to get you around in your electric wheelchair. Many places in Panama are not accessible with an electric wheelchair.

  15. Barry L Garman says

    for jackie lange…….did your father serve in the marine corps?

    • Jackie Lange says

      my Dad was in the Army and Air Force

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