Public healthcare provision in Panama is generally of a good standard in urban areas, but less so in rural and remote parts of the country. You will find good provision for both dental and eye care in Panama, particularly in Panama City, and especially in the private sector.Treatment is significantly cheaper in Panama than in the USA, and Panama is currently an increasingly popular destination for medical tourism, with links to healthcare in the USA. Hospital Punta Pacifica, for example, is a partner institution to the Johns Hopkins Medical Center in the US.
How to register with a dentist
If you are looking to register with a local dentist in Panama, it may be worth asking other expats for their recommendations, especially if you are intending to have corrective or cosmetic treatment. Alternatively, you could find a local dentist online.
To what extent does national insurance cover dentistry?
Basic dental care, dental prostheses and appliances are covered under the national scheme, the Social Security Fund (Caja de Seguro Social or CSS). You may also opt for private dental cover or to pay out-of-pocket. Panamanian dental care is of a high standard and is relatively cheap. For example, it costs around $50 to get your teeth cleaned and under $1000 for a dental implant.
Accessing private dental treatment
As mentioned above, Panama is a destination for dental tourism, with high quality treatment in the private dental sector and lower prices than in the US or Europe. Some sample quoted prices are:
• Veneers: US$550 to US$650
• Crowns: US$500
• Implant: US$1500 to US$2000
• Whitening: US$100
• Cleaning: US$25
• Fillings: US$30 to US$60
Check for references, qualifications and testimonials. If your private policy covers dental treatment, check with your provider to see what is covered. Also, check with the clinic to make sure that they will accept your insurance.
Make sure you are aware of any hidden costs, and discuss the full details of your chosen treatment with the clinic. For example, if you are visiting the country specifically for the treatment, find out how long you will need accommodation for, whether there will be any follow-up appointments, etc.
Many medical personnel in Panama are bilingual, as they have worked or trained in the US, and you may find American medics working in the country as well. However, bear in mind that not everyone in Panama speaks English.
How to register with an optometrist in Panama
If you are looking to register with an optometrist, you may want to ask your local expat community for recommendations, or you could find a clinic online. There are independent opticians, and there are also small chains, such as Óptica López, which have a number of branches throughout Panama City and provide a full range of services.
To what extent does national insurance cover optical care?
National insurance only covers optical treatment to a very limited extent. For example, it will cover you in an emergency, if your eye is injured. Often, you will need to seek treatment in the private sector instead.
Accessing private eye treatment
Panama is a centre for optical tourism, and you will find a wide range of treatments available in the country, from corrective laser surgery to cataract treatment. Prices are competitive when compared to those in the USA. Contact individual clinics for quotes, as costs will obviously vary, but some sample prices are as follows:
• LASIK (both eyes): US$3750 to US$3800 (including hotel and airport pickup)
• Cataract surgery: US$2500
• Glaucoma treatment (per eye): $2,500 (compared to $4,800 to $7,500 in the USA)