In between making cabinets , sanding, staining and nailing, Scott has been collecting quotes for international health insurance . There are many variations of different ways to go with regards to insuring ourselves for health coverage. There is a discount plan offered by the local hospital in David, Chiriqui. This covers 70 percent with no deductible costing $54.00 per month for the two of us ($700.00 per year) This plan would only allow us to use the local hospital in David. So if we were traveling anywhere outside Panama or any other area of Panama we wouldn’t have coverage at any other hospital . Overall coverage seems to cover $15,000.00 per year , so if anything catastrophic happened we’d be responsible for the balance. This could potentially be a large bill but not nearly as devastating financially as it would be in the states. The cost of health care just isn’t nearly as horrible as what we are accustomed to here. Even when we turn sixty years old it’s only $90.00 per month for the two of us. Given the low cost of medical services in Panama $700.00 per year would go pretty far. None of these insurances cover dental or vision but paying out of pocket is easily affordable.
Travel insurance would be necessary to supplement our coverage while traveling . The cost is $80.00-100.00 per month for two of us. Coverage has $1,000.00 deductible for $100,000 worth of coverage. U.S. is excluded in this plan. So far the travel plans we have found don’t seem to cover your home country. This would be something we would likely purchase only while traveling and discontinue when we are back home. So the first option would be a combination of these two coverages, local discount plan and temporary travel coverage. The big drawback here is no U.S. coverage.
The second option is an actual international health plan which has a $5 million dollar lifetime coverage limit , valid in most hospitals in both David and Panama City as well as over 190 other countries, (U.S. optional if you want to pay extra$). $1,000.00 deductible with no co-pay is $225.00 per month ( $2,700.00 per year) for two of us, this excludes the U.S. or to include the U.S., $275.00 per month, ($3,300.00 per year). Here’s the major downside to this coverage when you turn 70 years old the yearly rate is $25,000.00 per year for two, yikes! This is the first international plan we have looked at and there are many others to consider before we make a decision.
Here’s an idea we are playing with… Get the international plan now while it’s affordable at $1,400.00-$2,600.00 per year depending on the company we choose and the options they offer and as we age and the international plans become exorbitantly expensive we can change to a higher deductible for the international coverage and add the Chiriqui hospital discount plan. The higher deductible for the international coverage lowers the premiums significantly making it more affordable down the road. We would of course discontinue the international coverage when we reach an age where we are no longer traveling. It’s just an idea, we will likely play around with several options as we continue our research.
We keep up on several expat forums in Panama and from what we read from many people who have first hand experience, they have been very satisfied with the level of care they have received . There are many U.S. trained doctors and many who speak English. Medication seems to vary in terms of cost, some things are cheap others not so much. Also availability of certain medications can be challenging . While we were visiting Boquete last year, (2011) we attended an expat event where we had the opportunity to talk with folks who have been living there for some time . Of course I had to ask everyone I spoke to about what they thought of health care in Panama. Without exception every person I spoke with that night had very good things to say about the experiences they had had. There was one common comment and it was about how well they were treated by doctors, and the common practice of the doctors giving out their home phone number with instructions to call them ‘directly ‘ if in need. A very comforting difference from what most had previously experienced in their country of origin. This being said, I have also heard some not so good stories too, mostly about billing and coverage and typical frustrating bureaucracy . This is something that cannot be avoided when dealing with any large organization anywhere in the world.
We’ve only just begun to research this aspect of our adventure so I will update you as we learn more. There are many options and I’m sure we will find something that fits our needs.