I get asked about medical care in Panama often. There is a very xenophobic idea that I encounter often in the USA that the only decent medical care is found in the USA or ‘those expensive white people countries.’ I think they mean France and Germany but I don’t speak fluent stupid so I’m just guessing. I have rather complicated health problems myself. I have very severe epilepsy. That’s the big one. More common problems I have dealt with are high blood pressure, chronic ear infections (diving, yay!) and some pretty standard dermatology issues.
I have a very good general practitioner in Panama City. She is very attentive, takes her time with the patient and I prefer her to any doctor I have ever had in the US. She does not toss unneeded pills in my direction as has been my experience with many US doctors. Pills are a last resort, not a first with her. I greatly appreciate that. I see a neurologist when needed and my GP manages my epilepsy medication in tandem with my neurologist. I also have frequent appointments with a physical therapist to manage the damage seizures do to my body. My epilepsy is treatment resistant so even with medication, I still have frequent seizures. That would be the case regardless of where I live in the world. My doctor visits cost me $18. (It is a modest clinic, not a big fancy hospital, but I am very happy with the care I get there.) My prescription medications are all about 30% less than what I pay in the US except my epilepsy meds which are a bit more.
In 2006 I had an ear infection so severe that I was hospitalized. When I was finally well enough to go home, my ear/nose/throat specialist gave me his cell number and drove me home so he could learn the route to my house in case he needed to make a house call. And I puked in his car.
I have seen a psychiatrist in Panama City and found the experience pretty much the same as seeing a ‘shrink’ in the US. Same office, same meds, same methods. (I suffer from depression and PTSD) My appointments were $40 for an hour long session.
I had surgery for a hernia behind my navel two years ago in Panama City. I was treated at a small clinic and my experience was a very good one. I had three doctors attend me and two spoke English. I felt very confident about their skills and no more scared than I would be in an American hospital. The bill for the surgery, anesthesia, etc was $1400.
Last year I had full blood panels and all around tests done (blood, pee, poo, the works) and this was done in a big fancy hospital (Hospital San Fernando). I usually fear blood tests because I have weird veins and nurses tend to poke me multiple times and I end up feeling like a sprinkler. The nurse who drew my blood was a one hit wonder. She nailed it right from the start, no pain, no weirdness. EKG – $40. Blood, poo, pee tests complete set – $350
I do not have medical insurance in Panama (because I move back and forth) so these costs are reflective of having no insurance.
I have been more than impressed with the quality of medical care in Panama City. I cannot speak for other parts of Panama as I have not seen a doctor anywhere else.
In case you are wondering about dental- same thing. Good quality care and very affordable compared to the US, even if you have insurance in the US. I MUCH prefer my doctors in Panama to the ones I have seen in the US. In the States, I find doctors are often uninterested, not available, don’t listen and rely too heavily on drugs that are not needed (got thin eyelashes? take THIS! Sure, your eyes will turn yellow but you’ll have thicker, fuller lashes!) No, I don’t need four different anti-depressants plus sleeping pills, plus social anxiety pills plus restless leg syndrome pills. What I need is a doctor who makes realistic diagnosis and advises me without a corporate lawyer involved.
Hospital San Fernando in Panama City