Healthcare in Panama



It is for sure that Panama’s healthcare system is still not up to European or Western standards, but expats who will relocate here can breathe a sigh of relief because this country has improved remarkably in terms of medical services and facilities. However, like most Central American countries, the quality of healthcare in Panama greatly depends on where you will go.

The Panamanian healthcare system is comprised of the private and the public sector. The latter is managed under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and is funded by contributions to the Social Security System (Caja de Seguros Social) as well as by taxation and the national lottery. It also receives financial assistance from international organisations such as the WHO and UNICEF. As early as now, expats should know that one of the primary issues of the Panamanian healthcare system is accessibility. We mentioned earlier that the quality of services greatly varies depending on one’s location and in this country, the best facilities and treatment are concentrated in major cities such as Panama City which is the capital.

Healthcare Coverage for Expats

Panama’s Social Security System (Caja de Seguros Social) provides sickness and maternity benefits to all public and private sector employees. Premium contributions are shared between the insurance holder and his employer. The government contributes 10% of income from the sale of rights to fibre optic operations. Sickness and maternity benefits cover illnesses and maternity care. The social insurance system also provides Workers’ Medical Benefits, which include general and specialist care, and Dependents’ Medical Benefits. Despite these benefits, many locals and expats still opt for private healthcare for better coverage at low costs.

UK citizens may present their European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) to receive free or discounted medical treatment. Expatriates who want a more comprehensive insurance that will cover their expenses in private hospitals can also take out a private international health insurance. Private insurance in Panama is quite expensive but is still cheaper than those in the US.

Medical Practitioners

Panama boasts of having some of the best medical professionals in Central America. Most doctors in this country trained in the United States are quite fluent in speaking English, so language barrier will not be an issue. One of the highlights of the Panamanian healthcare system that some expats might find odd is the amount of time GPs, and specialists spend with their patients. The minimum time you’ll spend with a physician in Panama is 30 minutes, and they see to it that every patient, regardless of how many there are on the wait list, receive one-on-one attention. It is also not uncommon for doctors to provide their home or personal number to their patients in case they need emergency attention after the regular clinic hours.

Hospitals in Panama

Public healthcare centres in Panama are often crowded. Patients typically wait for several hours to receive medical care even in emergency rooms. Expats are strongly advised to seek care from private hospitals. Most of the hospitals recommended for expats are located in the capital city of Panama City. These medical facilities, which maintain connections with foreign institutions, include:

Panama City, Panama

Tel: +507 204-8000

Avenida Balboa y calle 53, Panamá, Panama

Tel: +507 265-8800

Ave.3ra. Y Calle Central, Calle Central, David, Panama

Tel: +507 774-0128

Av. Cuba, entre Calle 38 y 39, Panamá, Panama

Tel: +507 207-8100

Av Simón Bolívar & Vía Frangipani, Panamá, Panama

Tel: +507 360-7400

Alternative medicine is widely used by locals and foreigners. Natural therapies are generating billions of dollars annually through vitamins, herbs and alternate healing therapies. However, it is still recommended that expats seek for professional medical care.

Emergency Numbers:

Contact the following numbers in the event of an emergency situation:

  • General Emergency: 911
  • Medical Emergency: 103
  • Fire Department: 103
  • Police: 104


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