Featured Image

4 min read

Top Notch Health Care In Panama For Pennies On The Dollar

Rising health care costs in the United States, and endemic waiting lists in Canada, have made some individuals increasingly interested in medical tourism to other countries.

Panama, with some of the highest quality of medical care in Latin America, is an increasingly attractive option for those people. The Panamanian health care system is both private and public.

The public system is divided into two components, Caja de Seguro Social (CSS) and Ministerio de Salud (MINSA). Anyone who works, pays into and is covered (receives free treatment) by CSS. MINSA is in place to deal with anyone who is not covered by CSS and offers inexpensive treatment. Expats who work in Panama probably pay into and are covered by the CSS system, but even if you are not you can still use it or MINSA clinics on a pay-as-you-go basis.

While the public hospitals offer reasonable care, most expats prefer the private option. Though significantly more expensive than a visit to a MINSA clinic or public hospital, private health care in Panama is still quite affordable by western standards. Panamanian doctors frequently speak in English, and many attended medical school in the United States or were trained internationally. Private hospitals in Panama feature substantially reduced waiting times, a more customer service-oriented approach on the part of the staff, more advanced technology and superior medical procedures, as well as a generally higher standard of care.



In a study of U.S. retirees living abroad in Mexico and Panama, respondents overwhelmingly described the level of attention and time they received from physicians to be substantially better than what they were used to at home. Those surveyed in this study primarily relied upon private hospitals and found the quality to be similar to what they were used to in the United States, at a much lower price. By law, Panamanian retirees are entitled to a 20-25% discount on their doctor’s bill.

While the quality of care in Panama is similar to what you might find in North America or Europe, medical procedures cost a fraction of what you might pay elsewhere, even at private hospitals. Public hospitals are also reasonable and much cheaper, but you may run into some issues with delays or overcrowding. Health insurance can be purchased to cover catastrophic care, but many people choose to self-insure because most visits to the doctor are so inexpensive anyway.



Hospital Punta Pacifica

Hospital Punta Pacifica is a state-of-the-art medical facility located in downtown Panama City and only fifteen minutes away from the Tocumen International Airport. Founded in 1999, Punta Pacifica is affiliated with Johns Hopkin Medicine International and is widely considered to be one of the best hospitals in Central America. In 2016, they were the site of the first heart transplant in Panamanian history. The recipient of the heart was a 51-year-old Panamanian woman.


Paitilla Hospital

One of the oldest hospitals in Panama is Paitilla Hospital. They are best known for their oncology unit, along with,

  • Radiology and Imaging
  • Cancer Center
  • Cardiac catheterization Unit
  • Critical care unit for newborns and adults

Clinica Hospital San Fernando

Another highly rated private hospital in Panama City is “San Fernando Hospital” as it is known to English speakers. With 400 physicians and 111 hospital beds, San Fernando Hospital handles a wide range of medical treatments such as

  • Cardiac Surgery
  • Dental Care
  • Dialysis
  • Imaging
  • Neurosurgery
  • Pediatrics
  • Vascular Surgery

And much more. Since its inception in 1949, the Clinica Hospital San Fernando (the first private hospital in the Republic of Panama) has strived to provide first-rate medical care to its customers. In 2011, they were accredited by the Joint Commission International, an NGO that provides accreditation to hospitals around the world.


Hospital Nacional

Hospital Nacional opened July 9th, 1973. It was originally named Clinica Nacional or informally “Clinica de la Mujer” as they specialized in OB/GYN services, but today it has grown into a full-fledged medical facility. This hospital features:

  • An Emergency Room
  • A 24/7 operating room capable of handling all major surgeries
  • Pharmacology department
  • Blood Bank
  • Medical Imaging
  • Physical Therapy

And much more. Hospital Nacional is renowned for the high level of care patients receive in their facility.


David is home to 2 private hospitals. The David Chiriqui hospital, a full-service private hospital is used by many expats. The Mae Lewis hospital is another private facility also used by many expats. The David hospital offers a discount health program where doctors and hospital charges are reduced by 50%.


For Everything you need to know about Residencies, Second Passports and Wealth Protection, read this amazing article: The Basics of How To Get a Second Passport Or a Second Residency



With onerous regulations making it difficult for a private health care option to develop in most parts of Canada, many people are choosing medical tourism as a means of escaping endemic waiting lists. Cosmetic surgery, operations to correct obesity, hip and knee replacements and Lasik eye surgery are only a few of the procedures opted for in Panama. Of course, cosmetic surgery prices and all other procedures vary per factor involved.

Thousands of Canadians die every year while waiting for medical treatment, and countless more suffer needlessly unable to access so-called “elective” treatments. Why wait a year or two for an MRI in Canada when you could spend a few hundred dollars and get scanned right away in Panama? With very few private options within Canada, the only choice for people who don’t want to queue endlessly is to get on a plane. Panama offers an excellent mix of affordability and high-quality medical treatment.

For Americans, hospital visits can be expensive, even if you do have insurance. Prolonged health problems can mean tens of thousands of dollars in hospital bills. And while the standard of medical care at American facilities is generally excellent, nobody wants to experience medical bankruptcy. And even just the high cost of medical insurance can be a tough pill to swallow. With operations in Panama costing just a fraction of what you would pay in the U.S.A. medical tourism can be a sound financial choice for many, especially if you don’t have insurance.

Between the high standard of care, the fact that many medical professionals in Panama speak English, and the reasonable prices, there is a lot to recommend about Panamanian health care for prospective expats or medical tourists. Panama has many world-class hospitals and capable, foreign-trained doctors that can handle virtually any medical need.

Dental care is also significantly less expensive in Panama and even smaller towns and cities will often have many dental clinics and providers to choose from. Expat groups in the area you are interested in can be a great source of recommendations and reviews of different doctors, dentists, and clinics.

The approximate charges for healthcare facilities are as follows:

  • Doctor consultations and house calls cost at most $45
  • Lab test services cost 50% of what the pricing is in the US
  • In-Patient services cost less than $100 a night
  • Teeth cleaning at dentists cost $90
  • Eye examinations are absolutely free as long as you purchase your glasses from them.

Bring any medications you currently take with you. Should you find that you have left a medication that you need at home, there will be a ‘Farmacia’ or pharmacy on just about every corner in the cities, and they often have an impressive selection of pharmaceuticals. Many medications that require a prescription in the U.S. or Canada, do not require a prescription in Panama. Farmacia clerks can usually look up medications and you may be able to have your prescription refilled without a doctor’s prescription. Should that not be the case, seeing a doctor in order to renew a prescription will not be an expensive proposition.


I help my clients to move offshore for freedom, privacy and autonomy by focusing on the immigration, legal, and tax issues that you will face when becoming an expat. If you would like to work one-on-one with me on getting out of Canada or the USA (or setting up a Plan-B location), then read this important letter and fill in an application form to become a Private Client. My fees are not cheap, however, I can assure you that when you work with a professional, your risks can be reduced considerably.

Mikkel Thorup

Written by Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and Director at Expat Money™, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money.

Recent Posts

Why Getting Your Panama Permanent Residence Is So Important

One advantage of the Panamanian residency system is that you don’t have to fool around with temporary residency, instead, you can apply immediately...

Read More

How To Obtain Residency in Ireland to Live And Work

If you want to get permanent residency in Ireland, then the first step is to get an Irish Residence Permit and get it stamped with one of the stamps...

Read More

How You Can Apply For Residency In El Salvador

El Salvador has a tropical climate and is abundant in natural beauty with a rich variety of fauna. There are many beautiful beaches and national...

Read More