Friday 29 September 2023

Costa Rica is a healthier country for retirees than Panama

Expat FocusCosta Rica is a healthier country for retirees than Panama

(EXPAT-FOCUS) Many retirement companies and organizations promote Panama as a better country to live in than Costa Rica. Although Panama offers many perks for retirees and is slightly more affordable one has to really look at several factors to get a realistic picture and comparison.

First, Costa Rica has many more places for living from which retirees can choose. Second, Costa Rica has a better climate in its Central Valley where the majority of expats reside. Finally, Costa Rica’s unparalleled natural beauty cannot be topped. Perhaps that is why CNN has chosen it as one of the few countries advertised its “One Minute Vacation” commercials.

Only 15 countries around the world are featured and Costa Rica is one of them.

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The cost of living between the two countries can be compared here. Panama and Costa Rica

However, the most important compelling reason for retiring in Costa Rica is its health care system. Good healthcare can make the difference between life and death especially among senior citizens This statement is never more true when looking at the current Coronavirus epidemic.

It is unfortunate that so many people base the retirement decision on affordability without looking at the quality of life and healthcare.

With 60,296 cases and 1,294 deaths, Panama has become the country with more cases of COVID-19 in proportion to its total number of inhabitants according to BBC World News of July 26, 2020. Panama has the worst official tally of coronavirus infections in the region.

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Hospitals in Panama are on the brink of collapse as coronavirus cases spike in the Central American country worst hit by the pandemic, where doctors are already exhausted.

With a population of four million, Panama has gone from 200 cases a day to 1,100 over the last few weeks.

“Our daily number of infected patients has been increasing in a sustained way to the point of passing 1,000 cases,” David Villalobos, head of the intensive care unit at the Arnulfo Arias Madrid Hospital in Panama City, told AFP.

“There are no hospitals that could sustain such a number,” he said.

The sharp increase has forced authorities to adapt existing hospitals and look for new spaces, like convention centers, to boost a health system with a range of problems including long waiting lists.

According to official figures, more than 20,000 people are in isolation at home or in hotels. Another 1,164 are receiving hospital treatment, 159 of whom are in intensive care.

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Authorities estimate that of every 100 people infected, 20 end up in hospital — meaning that at the current rate, 200 people a day are being admitted to hospital, and 50 to intensive care.

On the other hand, Costa Rica confirmed 629 new cases of the coronavirus over the past day, totaling 5,229 cumulative known cases, the Health Ministry announced on Sunday, July 23. Three hundred and ten people are hospitalized with COVID-19, a new high, with 56 in intensive care. The Health Ministry has announced 104 coronavirus-related deaths.

So when all is said and done Costa Rica’s health care is far superior to Panama’s as the figures indicate and should be the determining factor when choosing which one of the two counties offers the best quality of life for retirees.

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Christopher Howard
Christopher Howard has lived, worked and played in one of the most magical places on earth for more than 33 years. His love for Central America is so great that he became a citizen of Costa Rica. Howard is the author the perennial best-selling travel/retirement/overseas investment guide book (15 editions), The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica. He is the only author of any of the guidebooks about Costa Rica who actually lives there full-time. You can reach Howard at

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