Many of you may be aware that medical and dental cost in panama are pennies on the dollar compared to what Americans pay. Here’s why I think it is so, and another reason to love Panama.
1. Panama is not a litigious society. It is very hard to sue a physician here, and even if it were easier the people here don’t think that way. Living carries risk. Driving, boating, fishing, all carry risk associated with them and people realize that. So they don’t do dumb things as often. There is a high level of common sense. In the states a lot of the cost built into your visit is to pay insurance premiums for malpractice. The other half goes to administrative fees to insurance companies for your coverage. Then there is civil law, or tort that places attorneys between you and your doc as well, increasing the cost to runaway levels out of control. Take away insurance and lawyers and what is the true cost of going to the dentist? Here it is between $15 and $25 for a cavity. My private doctor charges $15 for a visit. The ER and and hospital admission for children is free, and then it is a sliding scale depending on what you need. But it is very cheap nonetheless.
In the states there are two multi billion dollar industries between you and your doctor. When I worked as a paramedic in Washington state, insurance was about $500 per month out of my pay, and the company paid another $800 or so. That is 3 times the average monthly salary here in panama. Then the insurance didn’t even cover the whole visit. You have copay and deductible and denied treatment. With my family of 5, including the companies portion I paid $15,000 per year in insurance and another $5k out of pocket. $20,000 a year for medical. Only $15k if we had no visits of any kind. Are you kidding me?? Health coverage will never be adorable as long as you are paying 3 professional industries so you can go to the doctor. The amount of money your doctor sees from the $175 visit is probably about $40 if he’s lucky. If the U.S. Is going to have social medicine it needs a single payor system and get lawyers and insurance companies out of the way of you and your doctor. No way that will happen when the lobbies on both sides are winning the war.