Priscilla McLeod is someone you need to talk to about health insurance in Panama. She was recommended by an extremely satisfied client who had interviewed several insurance brokers and found many to be wanting. After spending some time with her myself, I asked her to join the YourPanama team.
Sydney Tremayne.

She has a considerable roster of ex-pat clients and speaks excellent English. And, of course, if I didn't think she was excellent she would not be on the team!

Health insurance
in Panama:
What you need
to know about it

By Pricilla McLeod Sosa

Health insurance in Panama is essential, unless you are a gambler. But what's available? What's it cost? What, if any, are the restrictions? And what's medical care like in Panama? All questions for which people considering a move to Panama need answers.

Let me deal with the last question first, and then I'll get to the others.

Panama is a modern country and has excellent doctors in all the different specialties. The quality of the hospital care is not only excellent, it is drastically less expensive than it is in the U.S. This has a positive impact on the cost of the health insurance in Panama.

First class private hospitals

There are both public and private hospitals in Panama. Most ex-pats attend the first class private hospitals which, in Panama City alone, include:

  • Johns Hopkins Hospitals (Punta Paitilla)
  • Clinica Hospital San Fernando (operating since 1948)
  • Hospital Paitilla
  • Hospital Nacional
  • Hospital Santa Fe, and
  • Hospital Bella Vista.

An extension of the Johns Hopkins Hospital has been completed since 2006. And there are two private hospitals in David, close to popular Boquete and Volcan, Hospital Chiriqui & Hospital Mae Lewis. Most doctors are bilingual, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised with doctors and hospitals here.

Most doctors are bilingual, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised with doctors and hospitals here.

Health insurance in Panama has been an important industry for about 100 years. The first company here was Pan American Life Insurance Company (Palic) & afterwards, Cia. Internacional de Seguros, S.A. Perhaps a more familiar name to ex-pats, Mutual of Omaha has been well established here for many years. They provided health insurance in Panama for Canal employees for a long time, but now its portfolio of clients was acquired by Aseguradora Mundial de Panama.

Familiar names.
Gradually, more companies- both Panamanian and international started to provide health insurance in Panama. They include: Palic Alico (part of the AIG group, which offers only group coverage) International Health Insurance Denmark a/s (Danish) Sagicor and World Wide Medical Assurance (mavor medical coverage only) (Dominican Republic)

Among leading Panamanian companies: ASSA
Compañia Internacional de Seguros, S. A.
Aseguradora Mundial de Panama, S. A. (who bought the Mutual's portfolio), and
Aseguradora Ancon.

HeaIth insurance in Panama: Four flavors
Health insurance in Panama is basically divided into four major types:
Local HMO's (coverage only for Panama)
2. International HMO's (A Mundial) Function just as the local ones but outside of Panama as well & you are limited to a select number of hospitals, doctors & labs.
3. International policies (open policies, as well international ones with the HMO concept, working through an established network of doctors, labs and hospitals outside of Panama.
4. Major Medical Coverage (only hospitalization expenses covered)

Local HMO-style policies are useful if you anticipate needing coverage only in Panama. Coverage varies widely, but generally is between US$300,000 and US$500,000. You are limited to a select group of doctors and hospitals & labs. Go outside the group, and you will be penalized & reimbursed only for just 60%o of what would have been paid to the preferred provider.

Gradually, more companies – both Panamanian and international – started to provide health insurance in Panama. They include:

  • Alico (part of the AIG group, which offers only group coverage)
  • International Health Insurance Denmark a/s (Danish)
  • British American and
  • Capital Insurance

Among leading Panamanian companies:

  • ASSA
  • Compañía Internacional de Seguros, S.A.
  • Aseguradora Mundial de Panamá, S.A. (who bought the Mutual’s portfolio), and
  • Aseguradora Ancon

Health insurance in Panama: two flavors

Health insurance in Panama is basically divided into two major types:

  1. Local HMOs (coverage only for Panama)
  2. International policies (open policies as well international ones with the HMO concept, working through an established network of doctors, labs and hospitals).

Local HMO-style policies are useful if you anticipate needing coverage only in Panama. Coverage varies widely, but generally is between US$300,000 and US$500,000. You are limited to a select group of doctors and hospitals. Go outside the group, and you will be reimbursed for just 60% of would have been paid to the preferred provider.

Deductibles

Deductibles on these policies run from just $300 to $500 annually per insured person.

International coverage, as the name implies, extends to any country in the world where you incur medical expense. The amount of coverage varies from $700,000 to $1.5 million for the life of the policy.

All companies require you to have a Panama residence – with the exception of the International Health Insurance Denmark a/s. With IHI, which is based in Copenhagen, you can pretty much live any place in the world.

International coverage is clearly most suited to people who travel frequently.

Keep receipts

The other companies will cover your expenses generated anywhere in the world, but through reimbursement. This means, you pay the bill, bring home the receipts, and present the claim to the broker for processing & reimbursement.

Because the U. S. is an important destination for Panamanians, the international coverage type companies have established relations with a network of hospitals and doctors through an administration company in the U. S. You need only to present your health insurance card in the U. S. and the service is provided and billed directly, after your deductible & co insurance. The administrative company takes care of everything all you have to keep in mind is that if it is an elective treatment or surgery, you need to be pre - approved.

It is important always to contact the assigned administrative company before! The deductible available for international coverage varies from $1,000 to $10,000 per year. Again, the exception is the Danish company, whose deductibles vary from $250 a person per year per person up to a $10,000.

Premiums rise with age

Premiums rise with age
Health insurance carriers review their rates annually and adjust them based on their experience in the market and/or the claim experience of a particular client.

You can also expect an increase in premium when you move from one age bracket to another. Increases vary, but are generally in the range of 5% to 30%, depending on your particular case.


Priscilla McLeod & Asociados, S.A. was founded in 1977 in Panama City. The company markets all types of insurance. "I consider myself a female pioneer in this industry," Priscilla says. The industry was male dominated when she started her business.

To contact her:
Priscilla McLeod
pmaseg@cwpanama.net
Cell phone direct: (507) 6612-4699