Health insurance in Panama
What you need To know about it.
By Priscilla McLeod
(Updated July 2014)

Priscilla McLeod  Sosa  is someone you need to talk to about health & other  insurance in Panama.  She was highly 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

Your Panama team.

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

Sydney Tremayne

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:

 

John Hopkins Hospitals (Punta Pacífica)

Clinica Hospital San Fernando (operating since 1948)

Hospital Paitilla

Hospital Nacional

Hospital Santa Fe

 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 insustry for about 100 years.  The first company here was Pan American Life Insurance Company (Palic) & afterwards, Cía. 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 ( today, SEGUROS MAPFRE  ).

 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 which has been acquired by PALIC recently)

BUPA (who has recently initiated operations in Panama)

World Wide Medical Assurance Corp. and

Sagicor

 Among  leading Panamanian companies:

 ASSA

Compañia Internacional de Seguros, S. A.

SEGUROS MAPFRE

Aseguradora Ancon

SEGUROS VIVIR

 

Health insurance in Panama: Four flavors

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

 Local HMO’s (coverage only for Panama)

International HMO’s (MAPFRE) function just as the local ones but outside of Panama as well & you are limited to choose from  a select number of hospitals, doctors & labs.

International policies (open policies, as well international ones with the HMO concept, working through an estiblished network of doctors, labs and hospitals ouside of Panama. Within Panama you can choose any doctor & any hospital.

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 for a lifetime benefit.  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% of what would have been paid to the preferred provider.

 

Deductibles

 Deductibles on the HMO policies range form just $300 to $500 annualy per insured person.

 International coverage, as the name implies, extends to any country in the world where you incur medical expenses.  The amount of coverage varies from $1 million,  $2.0 million $2.5 & $5 millions for the life of the policy.  These are the “new generation” health insurance policies…since, $1 Million is not enough anymore!

 Most companies require you to have a Panama residence or at least to reside 10 months per year in the country, -with a couple of exceptions- since the rates in Panama are so very much lower than in the U.S. or Europe or Canada.

 International coverage is clearly most suited to people who travel frequently and those who would like to have the freedom of receiving medical treatment in the U.S. or elsewhere & want to be properly/adecuatly/completely protected, since travel insurance will never do the job entirely.

 

Keep receipts

 Some of the companies will cover your expenses generated anywhere in the world,  some thru direct payment, and others  through reimbursement, depending on the carrier.  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 adminstration 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 admistrative 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 deductibles available for international coverage vary from $1,000, $2,000, $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 per year.  This way you can choose the deductible that you feel comfortable with and administer your premiums directly.

 

Premiums rise with age

 For the purpose of proper or adequate use of the international coverages,  if it is an elective treatment (versus an emergency one) you MUST get a preauthorization in Panama from the insurance carrier before leaving the country & allowing them to notify their administrative associate in order to proceed w/the coordination of the service to be provided.

 

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, as well as the increased cost of the hospitals and medical supplies.

 

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 15% annually, depending on your particular case.

 

PRISCILLA McLEOD & ASOC., S.A. also provides property casualty insurance service to our clients.  We as Brokers, represent and work with all of the established insurance companies in Panama to find the best policies with the most interesting rate and efficient service.  Automobile, fire insurance, homeowners, Liability, Life insurance,  Maritime and Aviation, Bonds,  Accidental Death & Benefits , commercial and personal are only some of the lines of insurance that our company provides.  We have been established in the insurance market for over 37 years, so we are proud to say that EXCELLENCE is our motto!

 

Our information is as follows:

 

PRISCILLA McLEOD & ASOC., S.A.

ADVANCED TOWER BUILDING

Calle Ricardo Arias & 52nd Street

(Banking Center Area, caddy corner w/the

Marriott Hotel Casino)

Sixth Floor  -  Suite #6-B

Tels.  (507) 223-4925, 269-5249

Fax.  (507) 269-5033

Cel.   (507)6612-4699

 E-Mail:  pmaseg@cwpanama.net

 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.