Arriving visitors just need to pick up a brochure and a user card at the tourist information center in the immigration section of the Tocumen International Airport (we certainly hope they expand this program to cover travelers arriving overland like us but so far no luck).
Travelers who need emergency medical care due to an accident in Panama or due to a disease contracted in Panama just have to present their user card and passport at any of a list of health centers across the country to receive free care and coverage that includes accidental death, hospitalization, medical expenses, dental emergency expenses, administrative legal assistance and lost or stolen documents fees up to US$7,000. Incredibly, the cost of your medically-related hotel stay (up to 10 days) is also covered as are prescriptions.
In case of death, the program will cover repatriation of the body to the country of origin. Even translation services in English, Portuguese and French are covered.
Quite reasonably, Panama is NOT covering problems caused by negligence, related to alcohol and drugs, or resulting from participation in extreme sports.
UPDATE: After just a couple of years in effect, the Panamanian government has discontinued this program. Information about it is still published on the Panama Tourism Ministry’s website, but the program is now defunct.
Read more about travel in Panama