One big area of research we conducted before we choose to take off somewhere was Quality of medical care. Panama rated very high with well trained doctors, most speaking english and trained in the USA, and good hospitals especially near the larger cities. Think Oklahoma, If you are out in the boonies you may see a veterinarian but in Oklahoma City you will find good hospitals and doctors. So we knew we had good medical care in the area we were settling. There is a pretty new medical center about 1.5 miles away with direct affiliation to a top notch hospital in Panama CIty.
Big big differences though are in cost. Cost of medical care in Panama is ridiculously cheap compared to the USA. One large reason is that Panama limits the ability to file frivolous suits. A doctor visit can cost as much as a co-pay in the US – $15/$25 and maybe $35/50 for a specialist.
We are very conditioned to have medical insurance so we finally investigated our options. Since medical care is so cheap the real protection we wanted was more catastrophic. Checking around it seemed there were 3 options. 1) USA type insurance that would cover us in Panama or a Panama based US plan from someone like Blue Cross/Shield. This was quite expensive. 2) An international insurance plan. This is mostly for people traveling and living in various countries. The coverage was good and the cost wasn’t bad that is unless you included the USA in the plan. In that case the cost went quite high. Again the litigation issue. 3) Local Panama base insurance. This had pretty good coverage and was recommended by a number of other ex-pats here.
So we went with MS-Panama Plan. It is actually provided by a US based company. To apply we needed to have tests done and we needed to pay for them up front. All this was done at our local clinic. We had full blood test, Urinalysis test, chest x-rays, EKG and then a review with a doctor of the results – basically a full physical.
At the clinic they took booth of us in within minutes. Within 1.5 hours we not only had all tests complete but the x-rays and EKG results were handed to us. In a couple days the other test results were emailed to us. Within a week we were at the local doctor – Dr. Levy for review. We had heard many good things about Dr. Levy. He is a young guy with great English. We were told to show up sometime after 3PM, no appointment. We were in with the doctor within 15 minutes. He not only went over the test results, which were all quite good, but he also took all the time we wanted to answer all and any questions we might have had about other health concerns.
Well not only did we pass with flying colors but the total cost for a full physical for 2 people– not just deductible – was just over $300. This includes clinic costs EKG, x-ray, lab results, and doctors time. Our monthly cost for full medical coverage for 2 people is $133 per month. Now full disclosure, this does not cover cancer. There is a $100/year rider for any cancer. It also does not include Chiro or acupuncture but if you want these you can pay the $10-15 per visit out of your pocket. Over all this was a pretty good experience. Left us impressed. Well we hope we never need to use it. We feel quite good here. We have lost some weight possibly because of the daily beach walks, floating in the pool, and eating foods not laced with GMO and round-up.
In summary, this is our experience base on real events and our own research. Questions are welcome and enjoy the random pictures below.
Here is a list of random things that bug me about being here:
- Whenever I need to wear shoes which is rare. We are barefootin and flip-flopin.
- To much litter. Remember the USA before the crying Indian commercials. Ya it was pretty bad and I think it is a little worse here.
- Some people.
- Boredom, yes you do get bored living like you are on vacation everyday but I will get over it.
- When the sand gets so hot you think your feet burned.
- Near impossible to get replacement parts for appliances.
- Not enough Tiki Bars in this area. It ain’t St. Pete’s.
- Can’t find Double Stuffed Oreos, not that I really ate them before I got here either.
- No Corona Light beer. Lots of regular but not Light.
- Need patio umbrella’s for the roof top pool area and beach chairs and beach umbrellas for the sand.