There are several different possibilities for North Americans relative to health insurance during their stay in Panama.
If you decide to go without a medical plan or medical insurance, medical care by trained physicians in Panama in general, or in our hospital specifically, would cost you a fraction of what you would have to pay back in your home country. For example, if you had a hip fracture, the cost for treatment of this condition in our hospital would be several thousand dollars and no more, including a hip prosthesis that may be required.
In addition, one might wonder if being covered by the US or Canadian version of Medicare would be sufficient, thereby making it unnecessary to buy a medical plan in Panama. While there is some truth to this, you must remember that neither Medicare nor its Canadian counterpart covers you outside your home country. Therefore, while I agree that if you have a chronic illness, it might be convenient for you to return to your native country for coverage, for many acute illnesses or accidental injuries, you might not have enough time to return. In this case, it would be a great advantage to already have coverage within Panama.
While I am not an expert on other plans, I can talk about the medical plan offered by Hospital Santa Fe called The Medical Plan for the Third Age. The plan can change and I'm not writing a full, complete and legal description here, but I can at least give you a rough idea of how it works, as a basis for you to do further investigation and only afterwards, make your own, fully informed decision.
This plan is priced at a very low rate and is convenient for retirees coming to Panama. At this time, many American and Canadian persons living in Panama are covered by our plan. It is specifically designed for people over the age of 60 and covers almost every disease or condition that is not pre-existing. With the exception of having to wait two years in order to receive surgery for certain medical conditions such as hernias and cataracts, once you join and become eligible, you can receive hospital and other medical services with only a few imitations. The medical services are provided by over one hundred specialized doctors at our hospital and others. Hospital services are provided at Hospital Santa Fe. There are no coupons, forms, or deductibles and in order to receive services, all you have to do is to show your Santa Fe Medical Plan ID card.
I am told that the monthly cost and the co-pays, especially by American standards, are extremely reasonable.