Friday, March 4, 2011

'Go Ahead, Get Ill On Our Dime' Panama Tells Would-Be Tourists

Have an accident swimming in Bocas Del Toro & you'll be covered (photo by Bonere)
Some destinations give away free t-shirts at trade shows or place glossy ads on the web to lure visitors. Panama has taken an even more practical tact: its giving away free emergency medical insurance to those who visit.

The strategy goes beyond getting tourists on the planes. The country apparently hopes this will help convince "medical tourists" (ie folks who might travel outside of the United States to countries with lower medical costs for elective surgeries and other treatments) to consider Panama. "Those who take advantage of the health services in the country will see that Panama is an ideal place for medical tourism with highly trained physicians and hospitals," said Minister of Tourism of Panama and Director of the ATP, Solomon Shamah during his announcement of the freebie.

Travelers will sign up for the insurance at tourist information booths at the Panama City Airport when they arrive. They'll be give a brochure about the program and an identification card.

The coverage last for up to 30 days and covers accidental death as well as hospitalization, dental problems and administrative costs. One can't go to Panama and get too wild, though . If alcohol, drugs or extreme sports are at the root of the medical problem, coverage will be denied. There's more fine print, of course, so be sure to read it all if this giveaway is attractive to you. Full info can be found here.

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