Throughout Panama, private healthcare can be very affordable compared to prices in North America, even without an insurance plan. Purchasing a plan, however, can help your dollar go even further – especially in the case of a large-scale operation or medical emergency.
Local plans can be as little as $45-60 a month, especially if you are in good health. The downside here is that dental insurance is hard to come by – visits are fairly affordable without coverage (around $50 for a cleaning and check up) – but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a completely comprehensive plan for both medical and dental coverage.
Another drawback is that people often find it difficult to get results from the customer service departments of smaller insurance companies, especially when they don’t speak fluent Spanish. This is where your relationship with your insurance broker comes in very handy – make sure to meet someone face-to-face when purchasing your insurance!
From personal experience, I have insurance through Grupo Semusa – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Panama, and have had amazing customer service, prompt response to emails, and plenty of comprehensive information on my plan information. They also have English-speaking representatives to help you with the paperwork process.
Another option is to maintain your insurance plan from abroad if you retain residency in your country of origin. I know many expats who keep their previous policy as a “just in case” and pay for checkups and day-to-day medical expenses out of pocket while in Panama. Just make sure your policy has international coverage, and if so, look into what the added premium may be.
There are definitely fantastic options for insurance coverage in Panama, whether you choose to purchase a plan or pay out of pocket should be a well-researched decision before you plan a move. Regardless, Panama’s modern healthcare system makes for an easier transition into expat life.