Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back

Yesterday, I decided to cancel my MAPFRE heath insurance. When I checked my VISA bill I noticed it has jumped another $90/month over last years costs. $930/month is just more than I am willing to pay.

I have researched other health plans over the last year and really haven’t liked any that I have looked at.

However, not wanting to be entirely without any coverage, I decided to check out Hospital Cooperativo’s plan that I had seen being promoted by ACC in Boquete. From looking at the presentation I was sent, one would have thought that ACC developed this plan.

Today, Lilliam and I went by Hospital Coorpativo to find out more. Now I have used Hospital Coorperativo on occasion since 2005 when Lilliam introduced it to me. She has used it over 20 years.

I had never heard of this hospital having a participation plan before, but learned today that the plan is about 1 1/2 years old.

I have met Dr. Wong, the director of the hospital, many times when he was on duty in the emergency area. Lilliam has great confidence in him and used him caring for her three daughters.

The plan is very cheap, $10/month. With that you have a benefit of a substantial discount off normal rates in the hospital. Of course the rates for the hospital is much less than the larger private hospitals in David. For example, bed care would run about $60/day before the discount, which is substantially less than the larger private hospitals.

To be covered under the plan beginning in February, one would have to sign up in January. Of course, you should not think that it can provide all the same services as is provided in Mae Lewis or Hospital Chiriqui. You would not be able to get kidney dialysis or chemo therapy there. However, if you broke an arm or needed to have a gallbladder removed, it could be done.

You are not going to get heart stints or other complicated surgeries, but you might not want to have the other surgeries done in David anyway.

If you come down with Zika or Dengue you can be tested and treated,

For $10/month the plan makes more sense for my needs than the more expensive plans at Hospital Chiriqui or Mae Lewis or other insurance companies.

This is a Spanish speaking hospital. That is fine with me. Doctors may speak a modicum of English, some better than others. Nurses will most likely only speak Spanish.

Like I said, if you begin the plan, it commences the following month. The plan cancels automatically, if you go two months without paying. A simple plan, paid on a monthly basis.

Following is the standard plan,
Click to enlarge photo

Following is a current list of specialists serving the hospital and their fees.

Click to enlarge photo.

If you decide to check out Hospital Coorpativo, tell them you heard about their plan from Chiriquí Chatter.

Following is a map showing the location of Hospital Cooperativo. It is a couple of blocks from Hospital Chiriquí.

24 thoughts on “Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back

  1. Paying $170 monthly for 2 of us in our 70’s and can’t see that Cooperativo is any better since many of their charges are higher than what we pay for doctor visits and have coverage that covers most everything that may need be done in David or if needed in Panama City. They now are accepted at Mae Lewis also. 70% paid and no annual deductible. In 2014 we reached their per patient maximum of $25,000 yearly pay out because of my wife’s back surgery of 8 hours at Mae Lewis Hospital. Two cataract surgery’s since then and the per patient maximum has been raised to $35,000 per year. I actually believe we have had more saved than our premiums have cost us.

  2. Why not save the money every month like a health savings account and in case of a real expensive or specialized emergency fly to Miami where you can use Medicare? If you could afford to pay around $900 per month… that’s $11,000 per year. In 2 years that’s $22,000. works if you have the discipline not to spend it. You can do a lot with $22,000 in a hospital in Panama. If it’s going to be more fly to Miami for 1 month’s premium and use Medicare..

  3. Are you paying $930.00 a month for single coverage for yourself or is this amount for family coverage that covers you and your spouse. If this amount covers you and your wife this does not sound to bad compared to coverage in the USA.

  4. My insurance coverage, for myself, was $400 in 2003. it went to $930 last month.This was $0 deductible. Good insurance in Panama will be comparable to in the US.

    Amyone that thinks healthcare is a lot cheaper in Panama, has not done their homework. The heart doctor in Chiriqui Hospital had said last year that his office visit would be $100 if he had to use English.

  5. I should add, that the reason for this post is not to say that Hospital Cooperativo is th best hospital or that it has the best plan.

    Everyone has to assess their own needs. This just presents another option that many new comers may not be aware of. Certainly it is cheaper to deal with Hospital Cooperativo directly than to pay an intermediary.

    However, those that use an intermediary will probably do it because of language concerns. I doubt that the language concerns will be solved with an intermediary.

  6. I have signed up for the AAC Hospital Cooperativo Plan… PREPAID a year in advance ($275 for a Family of two; $30 for AAC and $120 + $125).

    Anyone can use this Hospital without an E Cedula no Discount, but with an E Cedula Jubilado Discount is 20%, Base Plan ($10 per person Monthly) is 25% Discount AND the AAC Prepaid Plan is 30% Discount…

    Best is the Emergency Room is 50% Discount and can give a referral to other Hospitals where needed service are available..

    This is a Non-Profit Hospital (only one in Panama for the past 30 Plus years) and most important: 1. No waiting Period 2. No Pre-Existing Conditions 3. No AGE Limit

  7. Look and see what $930 a month with NO DEDUCTIBLES will get you in the U.S. Sounds like you have not checked on the net (prices for affordable care) Barack Hussein Obama care

  8. Don,
    Here is another option I used the past year…..I obtained a Medjet Assist plan that will send a jet for you in case of emergency and fly you to any hospital in the US and use your Medicare if you have it…..I paid $400 for six months….they do all the arrangements making sure you are stable enough to fly and have Spanish speaking agents who will talk to the doctors…..may be something some may be interested.

  9. Gordon, In the US , I would use Medicare. Can’t use Medicare in Panama.

    Thanks Bill. You might include a URL for the Medjet Assist plan you are using.

  10. Don, Is the list of fees before or after the subscription plan? And are jubilado discounts honored or replaced by the discounts of the plan itself?

  11. Robert, my assumption is that the fees stated are before any discounts, but I could be wrong. I know that I pay more than that for all doctors I see in Hospital Chiriqui after the jubilado discount.

  12. The Discounts can not be DOUBLED:
    With an E Cedula Jubilado Discount is 20%
    Base Plan Discount ($10 per person Monthly) is as per the Flyer and the AND the AAC Prepaid Plan is the same = 30% Discount… BUT PREPAID for a year…

  13. my full coverage health insurance is 30 a month in medellin .. cost me 125 to fly round trip stay with friends meds are covered and dental

  14. In the list above of Especialidades Medicas (medical especialities) there’re 2 Drs. that I know, my wife & myself had been treated by them, unfortunately.
    1) Ortopedia (Orthopedics) Dr. Esteban Munoz
    Treated my wife for foot pain, he prescribed her some muscles relaxing pills for her foot, we got the pills, at the 2nd. pill she took got some very acute stomach aches, I called the Dr. he did not acknowledge his error, he ask her before prescribing those pills if she suffers any stomach problems at the moment, we say not at all.
    We went to visit him again, he said this new pills will be perfect for her case, the only thing is that could you afford $ 6.00 x pill he ask me, I ask the Dr. will these pills be alright on her stomach, money doesn’t matter in this case; yes sir he goes that’s why this price, this medicine is for people with intense stomach problems.
    Two days later at 1:30 am my wife was vomiting what she thought was her own liver, I saw it was a kind of hard dark blood as a gel mass, we ran to the hospital, she got a bad internal hemorrhage, spend the day in the hospital, the Dr. at the hospital said those pills where too strong for her.
    This guy was talking all the time during our visits about his students that he was teaching at the “morgue” & he will explain to us how he dissect the human bodies to show the students the muscles & bones…………WHO CARES ABOUT IT.

    2) Urologia (Urology) Dr Reinaldo Ross,
    My head Dr, send me to see an urologist, for routine prostate check up & mainly for a problem I have with a kidney that in some Panama’s hospitals couldn’t find out what’s really happening with it.
    This man told me that was an obstruction somewhere between my kidney & my bladder, he could go ahead & perform an operation (ambulatory) & case closed, it will cost $ 7,000.
    When I went for a 2nd. visit (with my wife) to starting to formalize this case, he said he did not remember saying that to me, that I need a kidney removal instead, it was around $ 20,000 – 25,000 for it, plus 3 wks in the hospital.
    He never sent any report note to my head in ref. what he found out in my visit to him.

    I speak, read & write perfectly the Spanish language, plus a perfect knowledge of this culture, so there is no doubt about any misunderstanding a Dr.
    These two so called Drs. ???? can rotten in hell, I’ll never mind, a vet. in the States is more knowledgeable than these two stooges.
    I don’t know any of the other Drs in this hospital.

    This is a perfect joke for this Orthopedic occasion :

    = this Dr ask to a carpenter to build a cabinet to store all his medicines.
    = couple months passed by, no signs of the cabinet
    = Dr decided he drops in by the carpenter shop to ask about the said cabinet
    = the carpenter is just working on the Dr’s cabinet behind a big pile of wood chips & he is not seeing that the Dr is watching him working on his cabinet from behind the big pile.
    = all of the sudden the carpenter commits a mistake & bury his wood chisel deep in one of the cabinet front doors
    = he prepares a bit of sawdust & wood glue & skillfully repairs this damaged door, sanding the door up, varnished it again & smiling says to himself : the Dr will never find this out
    = by now the Dr is fuming altogether & goes, how do you are doing son..?? (to the carpenter), I had been watching you working in my cabinet & also saw how you bury your mistakes………….
    = the carpenter without thinking says ……
    well Dr with all due respect you do the same but bury them 6′ under & used a ton. of dirt….

  15. Henry i understand what you are saying. As far as i am concerned most of the doctors in David are what i call play doctors. You got off easy i have been mis diagnosed for stage 3 cancer at hospitol Chiriqui and the list goes on and on. If i am treated in this country i usually go to John Hopkins or Patilla. I have had some horror stories at Mae Lewis too. If you have good insurance here dont play games go to the city.

  16. This sounds good, Don Ray.

    After paying into my company ins for 37 years with about 2000$ in claims…fortunately… may be deemed a cadillac plan….so I may end up forgoing it entirely.

    This health care law was about saving the big corporate hospitals as I understand.

    Thanks once again for all your valuable input here.

  17. Please understand this Hospital has LIMITED capabilities NO MRI or CAT scan equipment and the BEST Equipment and Technology in David or nearby is still with Chiriqui Hospital. A CAT scan with contrast is about $800 before any discount, I was just there yesterday with a friend who had a minor stroke and the cardiologist request the Exam…

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