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Healthcare in Panama > Panama Healthcare & Health Insurance FAQ

FAQ about Healthcare & Health Insurance in Panama

Bocas del Toro, Panama

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the difference between healthcare offered by the Caja de Seguro Social (CSS) and Ministerio de Salud (MINSA)?

Caja de Seguro Social (CSS) is Panama's Social Security System. The CSS administers healthcare to Panamanians and eligible expats who are employed and enrolled in CSS. CSS operates their own hospitals and medical facilities (approximately 80 in the country).

Ministerio de Salud (MINSA) is Panama's Ministry of Health. MINSA administers public healthcare to unemployed Panamanians. MINSA operates its own hospitals and medical facilities (over 800 in the country).

What is Caja de Seguro Social?

Caja de Seguro Social (CSS) is Panama's Social Security System. The CSS offers public healthcare to working Panamanians and expats with permanent residency status (who enroll in the system). It differs from public healthcare for unemployed or retired Panamanians, which is administered through the Ministra de Salud (MINSA).

CSS hospitals differ from private hospitals. One expat explains, "If you go to the public hospital here (first hand experience in both Las Tablas and Chitre) it is pretty much self serve. The nurses will provide the medicines and the procedures the doctors order and little else. It is expected that family members will come to the hospital regularly to help you with bathing, feeding and other personal care items. Also, you need to supply everything. Your hospital stay in the includes the bed, mattress and mattress cover. Unless you bring your own bed sheets, pillow, toilet paper etc. You won't have any. If you can get into the CSS hospital system after you gain residency your level of care goes up considerably, but very difficult to get enrolled, unless you are working here, then your employer has to register you by law."

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