It wasn’t me! Of course it is an unfortunate thing when anyone has to go to the hospital though. This friend was kind enough to share his story with me, including a photo of the final bill. He’s also doing much better now and feeling like himself again.
(by the way, the banner photo was lifted from the hospital website http://www.hospitalchiriqui.com/ It’s worth a visit if you want to know more about the hospital, their staff, their services, etc.)
First, a bit of background. There are two health care systems here, the public system and the private system. In the public system, word is you can see a doctor for $.50. I’ve heard really low prices for other things too. At the hospital it is said that your family is expected to take care of you as much as possible, but the hospital staff is there for all your medical needs. I haven’t been in a public clinic or hospital so I have no first hand knowledge of anything, but it’s nice to know you can get care even if you don’t have much money.
The other system is private and priced accordingly. A visit to a doctor is $30-50 depending on specialty. My friend’s hospital care was professional and appropriate. The room was larger than some I’ve seen in the US. There was a standard bed with buttons to adjust the head and foot, a call light, a TV, just what you would expect to see in the US. They had modern IV pumps to regulate the IV’s and medications, and a modern oxygen concentrator. The nurses were kind and came promptly when called. They didn’t speak English though so my friend was happy to have his translation app in his smart phone.
It started on Monday afternoon when I took my friend to see a lung doctor recommended by another friend. The doctor saw him almost immediately, was very concerned about his condition and admitted him to the hospital. There was a visit to the admissions clerk to share some standard information and get a deposit of $500 (credit card works). Then he was taken directly to the room and settled in. He was there until Friday afternoon, $1673.55.
The breakdown of the bill – the room was $1572.58. Additional charges – $125.80 respiratory care (probably the oxygen equipment), dietetic $6.25, general chemical $12 (I think laboratory tests), x-rays $45, serology $30 (more lab tests), hematology $7, bacteriology $17.50, and special chemical $150 (all of those lab tests, I believe). These charges include the doctors fees of $600 for his stay. The total was actually $1966.33 but with the retired senior citizen discount of $292.78 his total was 1673.55 for the four days he was hospitalized, for everything.
Thank you my friends for sharing your experience with all my blog readers! A big concern for many people, of course, is the availability, cost, and quality of health care. This is even a huge relief to me. We are healthy and have opted to pay cash rather than get insurance here (we have coverage in the US but we’d have to get there) and this tells me that our savings though miserably inadequate for anything in the US, would cover quite a lot in Panama even in the private system.
I’m a retired nurse so in a better position than some to judge care, and what I saw was very good. The doctor spoke English which was a big help to my friends, and he recognized what needed to be done immediately and got things moving. I didn’t stick around that night, but the next morning my friend was getting oxygen, IV fluids, antibiotics and appropriate treatment for his condition. When things didn’t move forward as well as hoped, other treatments and medications were prescribed. After what I saw I would feel very confident going to the hospital and my friend says he was very happy with his care there.
My friends were only visiting here in preparation for moving in the future. It is recommended that you check out the health care when you visit to be sure it provides what you might need. I think these people did that and then some!! Best of all though, my friend is feeling ever so much better and now maybe he and his wife can actually enjoy their last week here.