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JudyS

Seguro Social Health Insurance for Pensionados

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I found an email from long ago from an expat who had successfully enrolled in the Panamanian health insurance program through Seguro Social.  I had forgotten about it (2006) and don't know anybody else who has done it, but it might be an option.  It would not pay for the private hospitals and clinics, but would pay for the public ones.  Here is the text of the email explaining how he did it.

 

Quote

I went to the Panamá Seguro Social office in Beautiful Downtown Boquete, which is between BDB's main street and El Constructor, the big hardware store that is on the next corner on that side of the street.

I presented our Turista Pensionado visa cards, mine, my wife's and our two childrens', and told them that I wanted to enroll us in their healthcare plan on a ' pago voluntario ' basis.  They then filled out a form for an examination at  their local ' polyclinica ', their medical clinic and asked me to go there for a medical examination.  A medical examination was not necessary for either my wife nor for our two children.  My age was 67 at the time of application.

The next morning at 6:00 AM, I arrived at their polyclinica, which is approximately two blocks from Romero's in the direction of David and made an appointment for later that same day.  There was a fee of 50¢ for the doctor's appointment that day since we weren't yet members of their healthcare plan.  The doctor examined me, asked a series of questions relating to my health status and gave me several forms requesting various healthcare tests to be presented to their laboratory there in the same building.

Following the doctor's request not to have anything to eat or drink after I woke up the next morning, I returned to the clinic with my various bodily function samples nestled in the containers that the clinic had previously provided and presented them to the laboratory with the appropriate forms that the doctor had given me.  They then drew a blood sample for testing.

I returned the next morning at 6:00 AM and made an appointment with the doctor for that day and picked up my lab test results.  The doctor reviewed the test results and filled out a form stating that my current state of health qualified me for enrollment in the plan.

I returned to the Seguro Social office, handed them the form that the doctor had executed and they requested that my wife and I take the form that then prepared to Panamá's immigrations office in David along with a copy of our Turista Pensionada visas and passports.  I gave all of this and, as I recall, a $5.00 processing fee for each of the two requests, to the clerk there in the immigration office. 

Approximately one month later, the forms were completed and I picked them up and presented them to the Seguro Social office in BDB.  We then made our initial monthly premium payment of ± $54.00.  They said that all of the completed forms would then be submitted to their Panamá City office and would probably be approved in approximately six months.

You've heard of something taking an Act of Congress, well that's we received in ± six months, the official approval document of our enrollment was an actual Panamá Act Congress. 

Well, sure enough, we were finally approved for enrollment and their BDB office give us the enrollment number for our family.  A picture ID card is optional and the camera in their BDB office was broken, so I had my picture taken at their office in David there on the Pan American Highway and immediately received a picture ID card.

And that's the way it was.  I make my ongoing monthly premium payments to their office in BDB.

We have only required their services once in the last year, we're all quite healthy, and the service there was on a par with any that I have ever received at any healthcare facility in the United States.

Allen McDonald, El Galloviejo®

 

Edited by Admin_01
reformatted the quoted text

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He said, "We have only required their services once in the last year, we're all quite healthy, and the service there was on a par with any that I have ever received at any healthcare facility in the United States."

So they used it, and it worked for them.

He was here for a while longer, then he moved to Costa Rica.

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I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, they were paying something into seguro social rather than expecting Panama to totally take care of them. But on the other hand, if they (an entire family yet) had made anything close to full use of medical care available under s.s., i.e., a term or terms of hospitalization, they still would be getting off cheap at the expense of Panamanians. Moreover, in virtually every case I have heard about an expat going to Regional, they have ended up, by their own choice, being transferred to either Chiriqui or Mae Lewis--at their own considerable expense or at the expense of the gringo community which was solicited for their care. All in all, I don't think this is the solution. Rather, people who are contemplating a move to Panama should investigate and budget for healthcare before making the move.

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It's a lot better than leaving Regional and not paying them, as some expats have done, or expecting other people to donate and cover their bill. 

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Good points.

But I agree with Bonnie:

"Rather, people who are contemplating a move to Panama should investigate and budget for healthcare before making the move"

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How can you do that kind of planning when, at the time you moved here, health care was so cheap, you knew you could self-insure.  But then the private hospitals realized they could up their prices quite a lot, making health care very expensive.  But by now you are too old to qualify for any insurance that would cover that.  What are you supposed to do except hope you can get yourself back to the U.S. to take care of medical problems under Medicare?

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I attribute a lot of this to publications like International Living (and others) that paint an unrealistic picture of what the costs of healthcare in Panama are. Nowhere on any of these sites do I see where anyone has revealed that an extended stay in a private hospital can cost upwards of $100,000. Rather, they tout $3 to $10 visits to local doctors and seguro social clinics. The fact is that a major injury or illness could be ruinous financially, assuming you have the wherewithal or the credit card limit to pay at all, or ruinous health wise if you don't.

Six years ago, during a short hiatus in his health insurance, my husband broke his foot. Subsequent infections and surgeries and hospital stays added up to over $70,000, And that was six years ago, and that was with a lot of bargaining with the surgeons. This isn't new. It's just been underplayed.

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Years ago I had an interesting conversation with an attorney from Cerro Punta I met at a wedding.  We got on the topic of medical care in that he was a patient of the groom who was a chiropractor.  Anyway the fellow was saying folks here have been scalped by the medical community for decades.  He recounted rich farmers from Cerro Punta who had nothing but property and cattle assets ( cattle ranchers who started from nothing and now had amassed a fortune) going to the private hospital and having to sell off quantities of land a/o cattle to pay for the bill.   The jist of it all was the hospital /doctors  knew they had a gold mine and were willing to plunder their own.  Humm OK.  So what I came out with was ...this has been going on for a long long time here in Chiriqui.   You come into the docs office clutching your chest you better have your other hand on your wallet !...his advice.

Then he said...go to Panama City....

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23 minutes ago, Brundageba said:

Years ago I had an interesting conversation with an attorney from Cerro Punta I met at a wedding.  We got on the topic of medical care in that he was a patient of the groom who was a chiropractor.  Anyway the fellow was saying folks here have been scalped by the medical community for decades.  He recounted rich farmers from Cerro Punta who had nothing but property and cattle assets ( cattle ranchers who started from nothing and now had amassed a fortune) going to the private hospital and having to sell off quantities of land a/o cattle to pay for the bill.   The jist of it all was the hospital /doctors  knew they had a gold mine and were willing to plunder their own.  Humm OK.  So what I came out with was ...this has been going on for a long long time here in Chiriqui.   You come into the docs office clutching your chest you better have your other hand on your wallet !...his advice.

Then he said...go to Panama City....

 

We say in Panama that medicine and health care is now that.   A PROFITABLE BUSINESS WITH NO HEART.  

 

 

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