Medical Tourism In Panama

“Kathleen, as you well know, many of the prices for health care that you quoted for Malaysia in yesterday’s issueare quite similar to what we experienced living in Panama, also considered a destination for medical tourism.

“There we could easily be seen by a general practitioner for US$5. I remember actually becoming bothered when one MD charged me US$10…until I realized that that cost covered all follow-up visits related to that issue, as well!

“We had X-rays done for US$20 and lab work for around US$5. And these were things we could ask for ourselves. Not everything needs a prescription in Panama, including a variety of medicines attained only by prescription in the United States.

“I loved not only being able to use common sense there, but being expected to. You can self-prescribe some things, but that’s only the start. You are also expected to watch out for slippery floors and falling coconuts yourself! The country is not bogged down by the litigious craze found farther north. This is possibly the greatest reason for lower health care costs.

“As a side note, while medical care is as good in Uruguay, where we’re living now, it is certainly a different set-up. The Uruguay system uses mutualistas. Yet dentists are still highly accessible and skilled. During a recent urgent dental visit, my husband was charged only US$20 for the repair of a cracked tooth! It was a fast and fine job.

“We recently joined a local mutualista, and I have been so relieved to find that, even during urgent visits, paperwork and forms do not get in the way of care. Recently, my daughter needed urgent care. She seemed to have appendicitis. Time was completely afforded to her care, rather than to the multiple pages of documentation. As a former nurse in the States, I know all too well how much such legally obligatory notes take away from holistic patient care.

“Ultimately, while Malaysia may be a temptress of low costs, for those readers who wish to stay a little closer to home, there are similarly affordable options just to the south!”

— Anne R., Uruguay


“We so second the thoughts of ‘Bill.S. from Panama‘ in yesterday’s e-letter. There is not a day that goes by that we do not have a “Kathleen’ conversation. We just wish we had been privy earlier to your wisdom. It would have saved us the mistakes that we have lived to regret. Next time we plan to do it your way.”

— Janet J., Panama

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