Another Health Care Experience

The following came in as a general comment on the David Hospitals, but I decided it would fit better as a guest post.

Too many people come to Panama with false expectations about healthcare and wind up frustrated or worse.

One of these days I will have another followup of experiences learned durning the care of MC.

Planing on living in Panama? Better have a grasp on basic Spanish if you want to survive many healthcare needs.

My husband was seen first in Boquete clinic..they did some tests  gave an IV.The test results showed an infection.Dr.Chen recommended a David hospital.We headed there got in right away at CHIRIQUI.

They took blood started an IV. We waited two hours for a doctor. Then I needed to head back to Boquete  to get the children to bed (school today). I called my husband several times still no doc. Then went to 11:00 the hospital called and said I needed to come in immediately  to pay $1100.00 for the emergency  room. $500.00 for admission fee and $600.00 for other fees not the testing.I told them I was not driving from the mountains at 11 at night to pay a bill.I was hesitant  to give them my debit card.They said he would need to leave then. This is all very broken english…she put me on hold and told me I could pay in the morning when I come in.

I just talked to my husband..he still has not seen a Dr. Or a nurse that speaks english.It is nine am. I will be heading in to pick him up and take him back to Boquete  clinic. They even wrote extensive notes for David hosp. They may be withholding care until that bill is paid.My husband said No one has come in except to change IV bags.He is very sick..Dr.Chen thinks he needs IV antibiotics….I didn’t think I needed to bring a translator.

Too much false info on these blogs.One has to live here to really know what it is like….We love it here…just need to figure out good health care.
I checked put flights to US . BUT don’t think Eric could make the 27 hours.


14 thoughts on “Another Health Care Experience

  1. I have one of the best medical insurances with WWM HEALTH INSURANCE. I never have had to use it, gracias a Dios. But the new bill is over 20% higher than last years, which was also considerably higher than the previous one. This kind of speedy and heavy increase just does not make sense and will surely result in more people with poor or no insurance.

  2. Yet another excellent example of why it is not wise to trust most of the hype about living in Panama that you can find all over the internet.

  3. “Too much false info on these blogs.One has to live here to really know what it is like….We love it here…just need to figure out good health care.”

    There is a lot of good info on the blogs and if you get to know some of the bloggers and meet people here first hand you will quickly learn the realties of life here.
    Why anyone would move here without having medical coverage as one of the top priorities is very poor planning. Perhaps if having Insurance would of helped? At least MS Panama coverage?
    You are in another country and expect English is spoken, and not be required to provide proof of payment????

  4. 27 hours to return to the US??
    If you go to the Regional Hospital, X-Rays are .75Cents; a 1-1/2 hour surgery to place a piece of metal with 6 screws on my leg, $273.00 No insurance payments needed. The doctors are the same as in Mae Lewis or Chiriqui Hospital.
    By the way, Cattan Hospital wanted $3,000.00 -NOW!- and Chiriqui $4,000.00 -NOW! also.

  5. The info IL gives, is almost always incorrect. Especially info where they tell you that you can live here cheap, is totally false. Daily life here is more expensive than Europe and most probably also more expensive than USA. Supermarkets are really expensive, fruits are cheap, gasoline is cheap. Housing is similar. Restaurants are moderate. Insurances, a substantial part of your expenses, are very much more expensive here. A thorough investigation is essential prior to moving here.

  6. I can not stress enough to persons considering moving here, to have health insurance. Because so many uninsured people have landed on the doorstep of Chiriquí Hospital, the hospital now requires payment in advance. I know that some people think that this cold and uncaring but tell me honesty, would anyone expect free medical in the US?

  7. Too bad that IL gives false (outdated) information. I love living here but if I knew then what I know now, I would have chosen another retirement spot, with same friendly people, warm temperatures and reasonable infrastructure. There are many that are equally nice and yet much more affordable. Panama’s price policy puts the country out of my top-10 list most definitely.

  8. Recently, I had to have surgery on a huge painful boil on my back. We were going to the local salud both in Pocri and Pedasi. They had been doing the best they could for me but finally a doctor gave us an appointment form for the hospital in Las Tablas.

    When we arrived they were expecting me and sent me to the xray and lab for tests. Truthfully, my Panamanian wife was with me for the spanish stuff. Although I speak FINCA and CONSTRUCTION along with some everyday stuff. But I found that most of the staff do speak some english although they won’t admit it. I get them to converse in english and we have fun doing it.

    Now for my experience in Central Salud. After 2 hours in the Emergency room and a number of staff coming to see my horrible boil and hearing many owooo’s and aaahhh’s and mi dios… we finally got to see the doctor. Pedro Rios….the surgeon!!!! Who said we MUST do this NOW!!! WTF…..No consult, no options !!!! Then he says he’s leaving at 5.30PM so basically its now or go somewhere else!!!! You have a deep infection and it needs to be removed. OH BTW, plan on at least 5 days in the hospital with 12 to 15 bags of IV antibiotics and pain meds. So after some real thinking we agreed to the operation.

    I’ll keep this short as I can hear some of you snoring already…..We had to wait for the clean up crew to finish their work in the OR. Finally we were in the OR and was I amazed!!! This looked like something from a commercial for one of those surgery operations you see on TV. Everything was either new or in spotless condition. The next thing I saw was my doctor saying, “We’re going to take you to your room now.” What room??? It was all over and done!!!

    Holy vacas…its done??? WOW…that was quick!!! Then the doctor comes in and explained what he did and told me that I need to be in the hospital for at LEAST 5 or 6 days!!!! NOWAY PEDRO!!! I need to be back on my finca as we don’t have any water and we are making water runs in our truck and my wife can’t do this alone. We also have vacas that need alimiento and pacas of Alicia. We have 5 dogs and 2 cats that need feeding and attention. Plus my wife is afraid of being alone, as we live in the middle of nowhere!!! So I told him I would wait and see how I felt.

    Anyway, the staff was great not to mention muy caliente and very knowledgeable about their duties. The food SUCKED and there was no AC or TV but the place was clean and the showers were luke warm and not freezing cold as in other places. BTW, bring a fan to keep you cool. I had many tests for my blood sugar and BPR’s plus 2 general blood tests and 2 EKG’s all of which were very good results. I think they were doing them bcoz they couldn’t believe I was that healthy at my age or they just needed the practice.

    Having said all that and not being able to get anyone to tell me how much all this was going to cost me, I was getting concerned as we live on my SS check month to month. I’m figuring it’ll be about $3 large and we’re going to have to skip out on the bill.

    So I convinced my wife to go to the CAJA to get the bill. We only had about $300.oo to last us till the next month SS payment. So she comes back and hands me the factura PAID and $235.oo!!!! So here’s the deal….the whole thing cost me the following….$35.oo lab and xray, $30.oo for the hospital for 4 days and $45.oo for the SURGERY !!! That includes all the IV’s and meds they gave me. So it all came to about $110.oo plus some propina’s here and there, and we made some new friends too.

    All in all it was a good experience for us and we would recommend it to all. WE are still recovering and working daily at home under the care of my angel/wife, Jenny. We expect to be all healed up in a week or so.

    Now we realize its not open heart surgery or something very serious but it was serious enough for them to rush me in to surgery, to cut this ugly painful mass out of my body. So you can be the judge if it was worth it or not. In the States this would have cost at least $15 large with more very expensive doctor visits. My follow up care costs a wapping $1.oo each visit. With no 1 hour or more waiting in the office to see the doctor for 6 minutes or less. Here it is whatever time you need, you get…nobody complains.

    Hope this helps ya’ll….

  9. Always have a translator with you. They are available for health purposes. Even if you speak good Spanish, have the translator as a backup.

  10. Insurance for us was $1750 per month, that was the lowest quote, with a $5,000 deductible and 2 years without coverage for prior conditions. I am a 20-year type II diabetic controlled by medication and no insulin and my wife is a 5-year breast cancer survivor. So don’t tell me that we should have insurance, no way Jose that we can afford $1750 a month. I do have VA, so they provide my medications. My wife is not 65 yet so no Medicare.
    We LOVE Panama and we live a much better and less expensive life here in Pedasi than we could have in California. We eat well, do not skimp on food, travel to various places using Oferta Coupons, go to the beach, head up a nonprofits and we love our retirement in Panama. If you are not having a good time, think it is too expensive, then go back to wherever you came from, stop complaining, you have choices!
    Yes, we are SS refugees that made an informed choice and we do not regret for one moment that decision.

  11. I agree with Jim and Larson, the public hospitals have the same doctors as the private hospitals. We’ve used a private hospital once and the doctor did testing at his office in the public hospital. Since then we’ve used the hospital in Las Tablas several times for minor things (such as my Dengue Fever) and have had very good experiences with the staff and doctors. We do however, have health insurance should we need it. Our expenses have been too low thus far to justify making a claim.

    I have empathy for the situation but I have seen soooo many people get caught in the same vortex. It is definitely unrealistic to expect service in English unless you are in the City. And like J & S, I call it poor planning also, especially with children.

  12. I totally agree with you. I think that being uninsured and just planning to return home, wherever that may be, in case of health issues, is unwise. But who am I to say that. It’s not my health they are gambling with.

  13. If you do not have the funds for Health Care please don’t move here. Don Ray has plenty of experience with assisting folks here in the hospitals. Search through his blog for factual stories.
    FYI we are married and under 62 and pay $475 a month for International Health Care Coverage and the Local MS Panama Coverage. ( Yes we know, it will go up every year but we have budgeted for it)
    Back in the US our cost was over $1000 a month. Cobra

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