PANAMA MEANS BUSINESS / Annual Review & Commercial Directory 2015/2016
FOCUS Publishing group
The cost of healthcare in industrialized countries has created medical tourism with patients from Europe, the United States and Canada looking for cheaper treatment abroad. Panama is taking advantage of this budding industry with private hospitals offering medical holiday packages.
Procedures can be 40 to 70 percent cheaper in Panama than in the United States, according to a report on medical tourism published by the National Center for Policy Analysis. For example, an $80,000 dental implant procedure in the U.S. will cost about $25,000 in Panama. For the uninsured – and the underinsured – this saving is worth the cost of a short vacation to Panama.
All types of medical procedures are available. Elective procedures such as dental implants, cataract surgery, and cosmetic surgery are in the forefront of the public’s attention, but more acute medical treatment such as knee replacements and open heart surgery are also available.
Other procedures that top the list are those not covered by traditional insurance, such as fertility treatments.
Panama has invested in technology, accreditation and infrastructure to make it a prime medical tourism destination.
Requisites to apply for incentives
Panama has many tax incentives for tourism businesses. For example, companies that build convention or exhibition centers will be granted total exemption from import taxes from the date of their registration in the National Tourism Registry.
There are exemptions from income tax on profit for businesses, associations or unions that hold congresses, conventions, meetings, seminars, artistic or sporting events within the Republic of Panama of which 50% of the attendees are foreigners (minimum of 100 people).
In order for an individual or company to enjoy these tax benefits, they need to register in the National Tourism Registry, specifying the project data on the downloadable registration application form.