Health & Protection in Panama



The small nation that bridges North and South America, has always been famous to expats because of its state of the art infrastructures, tropical climate and welcoming locals. If you have made up your mind to venture in this rapidly developing country, you should make sure that you have all the important things on your checklist: housing, mode of transportation, education of your kids and all other necessities. But aside from these and what most people forget is to ensure that they have a good access to health care once they land abroad. You might say that it doesn’t count as a necessity because you’re doing just fine, but the uncertainties of moving to a foreign land are enough reasons to protect yourself from all possible situations, especially those concerning your well being. Panama is one of the most beautiful places in the world and here are some of the most important keys on how you can protect yourself to make the most out of your new adventure.

Getting Insurance

One of the first questions to ask your employer is “Do I have medical coverage while working in Panama?” Yes, salary and compensation benefits are important, healthcare is also a must have and should be included in an expats’ relocation package. You can always contact a representative from the Human Resource department to know more about your policy and its coverage. Your company’s insurance broker should also be accredited by the Superintendency of Banks of the Republic of Panama, who regulates all insurance companies that are operating in the country.

"I love the healthcare in Panama. Doctors give you their time as you need it. We have two excellent hospitals in David, Mae Lewis and Chiriqui Hospital. Both have good doctors or staff who speaks English."- Nanette Witmer, Expat in Panama

There are also other ways for you to get health care aside from your company. You can call some of the international and local brokers in Panama to widen your options when it comes to choosing which of them can provide you with a policy that best suit your needs. One of the international providers in the country is CIGNA Global, who offers health coverage to many expats in Panama. You can also consider ASSA Compañía de Seguros, S.A., Panama’s second largest provider of life and non-life insurance.


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Importance of Insurance

If you are going to live in the areas of Comarca de Guna Yala and Bocas del Torro, drinking tap water is not advisable, and it's best that you purchase bottled ones. All expats entering Panama are not required but strongly advised to get vaccinations against rabies, yellow fever, typhoid, hepatitis a and b. Dengue and Malaria are also common in the country, so you need to keep your place clean to keep mosquitoes away. Currently, drugs-related crimes are being reported especially in the most populated areas of Panama. You should be extra cautious when walking the streets at night or alone, using the ATM and accepting anything from strangers.

Vaccinations will not make you immune, but at least prevent you from being infected by the said viruses and diseases. The increasing violence in the streets of Panama can cause you harm; especially you are an expat who is still adjusting to the environment. Having a decent health care is the best way to protect yourself and give you peace of mind that in the event of an unwanted situation, you’ll be in good hands with a team of professionals by your side.

Local Insurance in Panama

Expats moving to Panama are entitled to the state-funded medical assistance for their first thirty days and can get coverage (through contributions) from the social insurance system which provides maternity and sickness benefits to all workers in the country regardless if they are in the public or private sector. The public health system is under the Ministry of Health which is funded by taxation and regularly receives assistance from the WHO or World Health Organisation and other international organisations. You should also expect that public hospitals are often crowded that’s why expats like you are advised to seek medical service from private facilities which are mostly in the capital, Panama City like the Hospital Punta Pacifica. The numbers that you have to dial during an immediate need are 911 (general emergency), 103 (medical emergency), 103 (fire department) and 104 (police station).

Even if there is adequate assistance coming from the local insurances and public health care system, expats in Panama are still advised to look into getting healthcare cover from a private company. It is best that you talk to an international broker in the country and consider getting their service. These multinational brokers are experts in the needs of expats abroad and there is a high chance that you will find a policy that is tailor fit for your lifestyle.



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Expat Insurance Services in Panama