Amongst the countries in Central America; Panama is the most industrialized. The medical tourism sector has been growing rapidly in the country. Some of the contributing factors to this phenomenon are the savings of about 50% compared to Europe or the U.S. With its central and political importance as a transit country and international business centre, Panama has a long history of looking after international travellers.
Panama’s healthcare facilities
Panama has a long association with the U.S., which has left a footprint in the excellent healthcare system, providing medical procedures and healthcare treatments at U.S. standards in both quality and service. The top hospitals are mainly privately owned, and even though many of them not yet hold international accreditation, they are fully certified by local medical accreditation bodies. Many of them are also recognized by international medical organizations such as the Cleveland Clinic, the Harvard Medical Faculty and the John Hopkins International.
Many doctors are bilingual, and have often been trained in the U.S. or in Europe. They are accustomed with the latest medical equipment and technology, and are surrounded by a larger body of nurses than their North American or European counterparts.
Some of the most common treatments that international patients flock to Panama for are cosmetic procedures and dental services. Recently, there has also been an increase in the number of patients doing orthopaedic and obesity surgeries, fertility and cancer treatments and lastly eye surgeries such as LASIK and cataract surgeries.
The prices of treatments in Panama are vastly less than in the U.S. or Europe, but the costs on particularly medical treatments are still higher compared to many other medical tourism destinations. The prices on individual treatments also differ quite a lot. Some treatment costs are only 25% less in Panama, while others are up to 75% less. Therefore a careful comparison is advised.
In comparison to many of its Latin American counterparts, medical tourism is still in its infancy in this small country. But with more and more American baby boomers contemplating on retiring in the region, and with its proximity and historically strong bonds to the U.S.; more Americans preferring a safe, modern Latin American destination for their treatments, will choose Panama as their number one destination.