Medical Tourism to Panama is on the increase.

With the rising cost of health care in First world countries, and medical systems burdened in bureaucracy,  many people are finding it cheaper and easier to travel to another country to have their medical needs met. With an aging baby boomer world population, the medical tourism industry has seen an increase in recent years. Panama is one of the countries experiencing a boom in medical vacations.Panama's association with the United States of a hundred years or more has left an influence on its health care system. From a medical point of view, Panama is said to share similarities in facilities, practices and procedures. Also a large number of doctors and medical staff are trained in the US. Moreover Panama's proximity to many US and Canadian destinations, make it the country of choice for many patients travelling out of their home countries for medical procedures.

medical_attention_2Panama has a number of hospitals that carry associations with prominent US and International medical facilities. The newly opened Hospital Punta Pacificais the only facility in Central America that is associated with the John Hopkins Medicine International, which is a $5 billion global health care enterprise, dedicated to ground breaking research, teaching and medical services.  Clinica Hospital San Fernando is a private hospital affiliated with the Tulane University, Miami Children's Hospital and the Baptist Health International Miami. The Hospital San Fernando is one of Panama's largest hospitals, with 24-hour medical services and facilities that are fully equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment. Centro Medico Paitilla, is a 160-bed medical facility affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and has been in existence since 1975. It is also a certified training facility for the American Heart Association and was one of only two hospitals that provided healthcare services to US military personnel.

While Panama's own Hospital Nacional is not directly associated with US medical facilities, it has also seen an increase in patients from medical tourism. The hospital started out as a 10-bed facility, and has grown over the years into an 80-bed private healthcare facility with over a hundred specialists and ultra-modern facilities. Panama requires practicing specialists from the more prominent facilities to also serve in Hospital Nacional which is the facility used by Panama's national health care program.

Not all medical tourism procedures are slated for Panama’s hospitals. Elective procedures could be carried out in private clinics. Healthcare facilities in Panama offer a wide array of procedures and services for medical travelers, which include but are not limited to the following:

                • Cosmetic/Plastic Surgery: Face, Breast, Body Contouring

                • Dental Services (surgeries, teeth whitening, dental implants, etc)

                • Orthopedic Surgery (hip and knee replacements, etc)

                • Fertility Treatments (In Vitro, etc)

                • Bariatric/Obesity Surgeries (Gastric Bypass, etc)

                • Cancer treatment and Oncology

                • Eye / Ophthalmology (LASIK, Cataract Surgeries, Vitreo Retinal Surgery, etc)

                • Stem Cell Therapy

In general, a person receiving a procedure here in Panama can save as much as 75%, compared to US costs. It should be noted however, that while Panama does share medical methods with the US, the same cannot be said for legalities associated with health care, particularly in the area of malpractice.  While Panamanian doctors are responsible for their activities and performance under the country's law, they are not required to shoulder the damages incurred during a malpractice case. The result is a lower malpractice insurance,  which can be translated into lower procedural costs.

Medical care is one of the main concerns of baby boomers retiring in Panama. With lower costs for health care and elective surgeries, as well as high standards of patient care, my guess is that not only will Panama's medical tourism industry see a busier time in the coming years, but so will its Real Estate market.