Affordable Health Plan
A number of people have asked us about the Health Plan we use here in Panama, so I thought I would put together all the information I had about it in an article for Playacommunity. It is called, MS Chiriqui Health Plan. Marv and I joined this plan in July of 2006, months before we relocated to Panama in December of 2006. We did our required physical in David, in September of 06, at the time we received our Pensionado visas. We liked that there was no age limit on enrollment nor on services. At that time the cost for age 59 and under was $20/month and ages 60 - 69 was $40/month. I had been paying $600/month in the US as a self employed Legal Nurse Consultant and had a $2500 deductible, so I was out-of-pocket most years.
In July of 2007, we became eligible for one "Well Visit" a month. I have used that for a mammogram, annual lab and EKG (orders came automatically from MS Chiriqui), as well as an ENT consult. I think this month it will be a bone scan, but it could certainly be a colonoscopy (the nurse in me wants you to know to get them every 10 years after 50, unless directed otherwise!)
Together, Marv and I have used Paitilla-affiliated physicians and been reimbursed for the following specialties:
Gynecologist (No, just me!)
Surgeon and Outpatient Surgery at Paitilla
For the most part, our reimbursement has been made in Coronado in person due to my concern over mail delivery. Senor Manuel Granados, Director de Servicios Medicos Hospitalarios is also frequently at Paitilla.
Marv had to have outpatient surgery FAST. I called Manuel the morning of the surgery to see if I had to do anything other than have Marv show up. Manuel directed me to alert the VP of Finances at Paitilla, which I did. She met Marv at the front door, something certainly not required!
To date, we have never had to show a medical card, which we have on us at all times. On the back of this card, we have instructions to transport us to either Paitilla or Chiriqui, whichever is closer. The plan covers transport. To enroll, a physical is FREE and lab work reasonable, currently performed at Chiriqui Hospital. Pre-existing conditions will not be covered until 2 years with the plan.
When at a doctor's office, we ask them to fill out a coupon and they answer a sheet with a few questions. Every doctor has done it in our presence, signed and stamped it. We pay, get our discuenta jubilado, then are reimbursed at 70%.
I recently asked for a comparison as a friend had paid out-of-pocket at Hospital Nacionale $3500 for 4 days hospitalizations and all services for a hysterectomy. That same procedure/hospital stay at Chiriqui was quoted as $1800. You do the math: 70% of $1800 would have been paid by the Health Plan. I have toured Chiriqui and met staff there, as well as have met the Director of Paitilla, who incidentally went to Northwestern U in Chicago for his Medical Degree.
The website, mschiriqui.com can answer questions also. Manuel has conducted several get togethers for people interested in this Medical Plan in Coronado and Altos del Maria.
We know of several people who have the Medical Plan and fortunately we are the only ones who have had to use it. All physicians we use speak English, many educated in US and/or have residencies, etc there.
For more information about this Health Plan, contact Manuel Granados, Director de Servicios Medicos Hospitalarios at MS Chiriqui and a liaison with Centro Medico Paitilla at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 6677 3922.
Dr. Marv Turl y Deborah de Turl, MS, RD, BSN, RN, Legal Nurse Consultant