The first step is selecting your health insurance policy.
I recommend using a good insurance broker for this.
You need a policy that is a good fit for your age, health situation, location, budget, and any pre-existing conditions you may have.
A broker can help you figure out which health insurance policy is the best fit for you. They can also help you through the application process.
If you find a good broker, they can also be an invaluable help with any future issue you may have with the insurance policy you chose together.
Plus in Panama the information you can find online can only take you so far. Website are not updated as often and as thoroughly as westerners are used to. It really helps to have the personal connection.
I mention 3 recommended insurance brokers. However, I would ask your local friends, and on forums and groups for recommendations as well.
- Application form
- Copy of passport, residency card, or cedula
- Medical history
- Medical exam in Panama by one of their approved network doctors. Men need a recent PSA exam. Women need a recent mammogram. (Almost all policies require this.)
- Proof of residency or that you live in the country for 10 months a year. (Not all companies require this.)
Before you apply, I recommend you review 9 important details about health insurance in Panama. You may also want to read my observations of health care in Panama
The Application Process
The process is generally pretty simple, especially if you use a broker.
Medical records and Spanish Translation. The most time consuming part will obtaining your past medical records. Those records will be examined for pre-existing conditions. You may need to get these records translated into Spanish. Your broker can help you with this. If they require a translation, you should find out if you need a Panama certified translator to translate the documents.
It is best if you turn in all the required documents at one time.
Typically the company’s review process takes about 2 – 3 weeks. That is, once all the documents are submitted.
What You Should Know Before Using Your Insurance
Make sure you fully understand your insurance before you start using it. You should feel confident that you know the following facts about your coverage.
- Your annual deductible
- Your annual or lifetime limits
- Which doctors, clinics, and hospitals are covered
- How and whether to submit a claim
- How long it takes to get reimbursed
- Any restrictions, such as the need to get prior approval for a procedure.
- Who to talk with if you have a billing or service issue or question.
Congratulations. If you followed all these steps, you now have health insurance in Panama.
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Well, I am 74 so Health Insurance is not available. Can’t I just pay for doctor visits out of pocket and if a serious problem arises return to the USA and use my Medicare and supplemental coverage if I keep them in force? I have no major health issues or pre-existing conditions except for well controlled blood pressure. Am I required to have health insurance by law as in Portugal?