A health related experience my wife and I had during a trip to Miami last week brought home one of the many reasons we love living in Panama. While dinning in a fine restaurant for valentines, my wife began experiencing an allergic reaction to something she had eaten. Within an hour she was showing signs of anaphlaxis and past experience told us we had better seek emergency help at the nearest hospital. We were only a short cab ride from Mercy Hospital and were in the emergency room in a short time. After taking down our information, they got right to work by injecting adrenalin and several other drugs into her system. In a mater of a half hour she improved greatly and within 3 hours the doctor said she could leave and we were headed back to our hotel room. The bill for this three hour visit into the emergency room was $3,500 dollars. The intern on duty submitted his bill for $285 with the balance going to the hospital. A registered nurse administered the injections and monitored my wife for several minutes each hour.
We have been through a nearly identical situation in Panama and our bill from the hospital in Punta Paitilla was about $350.00. Besides the cost, I saw no difference in the quality of the facility or care received. So why was the hospital in Miami 10 times the cost of the one here in Panama? Taxes, malpractice, wages, construction costs and a myriad of other economic factors enter into the equation I am sure.
When sharing this story with a friend yesterday he told me he had recently spent two days and one night the new John Hopkins in Punta Pacifica. He had a number of tests including an MRI of his brain stem, a CAT scan, blood tests, medication and two doctors visiting him a half dozen times. The total bill was $1,150.00.
Our Panama family health care plan covered 100% of our emergency in Miami including pharmaceuticals and costs less than $300 a month for a family of five. Now we are carrying a prescribed adrenalin injector which at $125 will reduce the cost and danger further should this happen again. We sure don’t want to have any more health related experiences in the U.S. or here in Panama, but if we do have them, I hope we are home.
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