abroad is always a question that surfaces immediately after reading articles
like this one touting the economic benefits of living overseas. In future
issues, Escape from America Magazine will be publishing articles that will
provide positive or negative insights to this important question.
We'll tell the story as it is. We know that medical services are
at the top of the list of concerns of anyone planning to live overseas.
In the meantime,
please allow me to expound to some degree on the issues of Medical Insurance
and Services outside the excellence perceived to be found only in the "more
highly" developed Core Regions of the world.
Service I've experienced is as good or better than I ever had in the States.
I don't use the national system, which is dirt cheap but adequate. Instead,
I have very common medical insurance for use with private physicians and
private hospitals. I have a regular private doctor. I pay US$
42 per month for my insurance, and I am covered anywhere in Panama. For
emergency attention or in-patient care, I can go to any private hospital
in the country. My deductible is US$ 200. The first five days of hospital
care is US$ 50 per day. After that, I'm covered for 80% of the bill. If
I wanted international care, I'd have to pay US$ 67 per month. With
that, I could be treated in the US with the same benefits. The medical
facilities are top of the line ... high tech in every way.
Here's a case
study. My 10 year-old daughter attends a private school.
One morning, she and her classmates were returning to their classroom
from the computer lab. She and her nemesis, Miguel, bolted from the
line and raced to the doorway. They both got their at the same time,
and tried to enter the doorway simultaneously. Miguel bruised his
shoulder, and my daughter fractured her middle finger and her ring finger
on her left hand. The school called me, and I took her to the nearest
hospital. They attended her immediately, took x-rays, confirmed the
fractures, and set the hand in an attractive, yellow cast. We walked
out of the hospital within an hour. The entire bill came to US$ 157.
I'd already used up my US$ 200 deductible, so the entire US$ 157 was returned
to me within 30 days. That's right, 30 days. The paperwork
was minimal, and all done at the hospital.
For the next
four weeks, my daughter sported the yellow cast, and had a great time telling
the story of her mishap. We returned to office of the private doctor
at the end of the four weeks to have the cast removed. Of course,
there was no charge. Her doctor suggested she get routine therapy
to speed the recovery process. Twice a week, for three weeks, she
received her therapy at a total cost of US$ 90. That too was reimbursed
by the insurance company.
attention she received can only be rated as top notch in terms of professionalism,
service, and facilities. The doctor and nurses and hospital staff
conveyed a sense of confidence without making an effort to do so.
My daughter was never for a moment frightened, and I was never once in
doubt she was receiving the best medical attention available worldwide.
spoke fluent English, I might add. Many doctors in Latin America
are fully bilingual, having attended US universities or specialty schools
in the US, or simply because they learned English in school.
ordeal is history, and it was a pleasurable experience, if not for her,
for her father.