Site Meter
Send Us An Email
Panama Guide

Welcome to Panama Guide
Wednesday, October 18 2017 @ 02:21 PM EDT

Want Tricare Coverage in Panama? Then be nice...

Healthcare By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Sometimes dealing with Tricare can be extremely frustrating. As a military retiree, my family and I are covered by Tricare - the military benefit which covers our healthcare. And it should be pointed out Tricare is a true benefit and not a form of insurance. When I first retired and started using Tricare in Panama in the year 2000, it was fantastic. I had no problems whatsoever. It was fast and easy to just go to the doctor, sign the form, and be taken care of. However there were some unscrupulous individuals who took advantage of the situation, and who started defrauding Tricare out of millions of dollars every year. In response, the managers of the Tricare system in the United States started to drastically increase their auditing and scrutiny of accounts and medical services provided in Panama. I myself was involved in the investigation of a fraud case. One beneficiary colluded with the manager of international accounts at the Punta Pacifica hospital and a doctor to bill Tricare for plastic surgery, however the forms were signed off as being related to breast cancer treatments. I filed a complaint with both the Panamanian authorities and the Tricare fraud office in the United States. The investigation in Panama went nowhere, due to stonewalling by the same hospital staff who committed the fraud in the first place. And since the hospital kept the same person on their staff, Tricare Latin America conducted an in-depth review of all of their accounts. As a result the Punta Pacifica hospital decided to simply stop accepting Tricare at all. Like - if we can't rip you off then we don't want anything to do with you anymore. So who gets screwed in the end? You and me. Nice guys, eh?

Anyway, that's a little bit of background information for the letter I received today from Craig Morrissey of the Hospital Nacional. They are still trying to work with Tricare beneficiaries the best they can. When you read the letter (below) you will see it was written in response to people who have blown up, lost their cool, and taken their frustrations out on the staff at the hospital. I myself have admittedly been in that category - blowing off steam in the wrong direction. Anyway, if you have Tricare coverage in Panama, you should please go waaayyy out of your way to be nice, understanding, and patient with the folks at the Hospital Nacional. The message in Craig's letter should come through loud and clear - abuse our staff and you're out on your ass. Anyway, with no further adieu, here's his letter... (more)

  • Panama - November 9, 2010

  • Dear TRICARE 4 Life and TRICARE Standard Beneficiaries;

  • As you all know, there has been a great many changes with the TRICARE program here in Panama over the years, and as a result, many doctors and hospitals will no longer accept TRICARE. Hospital Nacional is doing all that it can to continue to accept TRICARE. The hospital still has a number of disagreements and problems with TRICARE, but we are doing our best to keep the program open to the beneficiaries. Unfortunately, we continue to have problems not only with TRICARE, but also the beneficiaries that have TRICARE. All beneficiaries should know by know that there is a 25% co-payment required by TRICARE. Also, there are services that TRICARE will not cover or the hospital cannot accept TRICARE for, in which case the patient will have to pay for these services.

  • Recently, we have had a number of cases where the beneficiary has refused to make their payment after they have received services. This is not acceptable, as you are all aware of the rules and sign documents agreeing to follow the rules, they must be followed. In these cases, the beneficiaries have also been verbally abusive to the staff. As a result of this the hospital has informed them that their TRICARE benefit will no longer be honored here at Hospital Nacional for any services (lab, x-ray, surgery, pharmacy, hospitalization), and that if they want further treatment it will be as a private pay patient. Hospital Nacional does not enjoy taking this drastic step; but we must protect our employees.

  • One common complaint that the staff of the International Insurance office hears is that when a beneficiary entered into Military service they were promised Lifetime Free Health Care; and now the government is not providing it. Another complaint is that the beneficiary has to pay for Medicare Part B, and that Medicare would be paying that co-payment in the US; but there is no Medicare in Panama so why do they have to pay for Medicare part B. While the hospital understands that you are unhappy with these facts, please understand that nobody in the hospital works for either TRICARE or Medicare. The workers of Hospital Nacional have nothing to do with the policy decisions made in Washington DC and such complaints should be made to your representatives or senators. The administration of Hospital Nacional, responding to the way that TRICARE runs its program, sets the policy at Hospital Nacional. The employees are just doing their job and should not be abused for doing their job.

  • I would like to briefly mention some additional facts that you should all know and be aware of:

  • 1. The doctors are not employees of the hospital. You as the patient are responsible for choosing your physician. The doctors set their own hours, decide who they will accept as a patient, if they will accept TRICARE, and what amount they will charge.

  • 2. Hospital Nacional does not have to accept TRICARE. The hospital can choose to accept TRICARE on a case by case basis.

  • 3. Hospital Nacional continues to have many problems with TRICARE; and continues to work with the companies that administrate the program as well as retirees that are fighting to improve their benefits.

  • 4. Before the pharmacy can dispense medication, it must first run the following audits: Is the prescription filled out properly, diagnosis listed and related to medication, is the medication FDA approved (and if not call the doctor to get the medication changed to one FDA approved), verify the NDC and AWP. At times the pharmacy will receive many prescriptions at one time, in which case a back log forms. These are some of the reasons for the wait for your medication.

  • 5. IMPORTANT: Any individual that abuses the staff and refuses to follow the rules will be removed from our database and Hospital Nacional will not accept their TRICARE benefits for any services. If they want any further services it will have to be as a private pay patient.

  • I cannot stress to you how important it is that these rules are followed. Hospital Nacional knows that a majority of the beneficiaries have no problem following the rules, but other hospitals have chosen to simply not accept TRICARE rather than trying to work with them. If Hospital Nacional cannot count on the support and understanding of the beneficiaries; then Hospital Nacional will have to make the same decision to stop accepting TRICARE Standard and TRICARE 4 Life completely. If you have any questions about this letter or Hospital Nacional’s policy, please contact the International office 207-8354 or myself at 207-8361.

  • Regards,

  • Craig Morrissey

  • Hospital Nacional

Anyway, That's That: If you don't like the way Tricare is now treating Panama, then you can thank the scumbag fraud artists out there who sucked literally millions of dollars out of the system between '00 and '04. What we have left today is a shadow of its former self - and the resulting increase scrutiny and lower levels of payment, and therefore acceptance. And no matter what happens - be nice. Go blow your steam somewhere else. The employees at the Hospital Nacional are just doing their jobs and they don't need abuse from you, me, or anyone else.

Copyright 2010 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

Share
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks

Story Options

Want Tricare Coverage in Panama? Then be nice... | 3 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Want Tricare Coverage in Panama? Then be nice...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 09 2010 @ 03:29 PM EST

I can appreciate the frustrations of military retirees, but I am amazed that people think things should work here as they do in the states. I can remember when working with Military families in the states, our housing area was not part of an active installation. Members had to use tricare and there were complaints and problems there as well. Not all medical facilities will accept it because its a pain in the rump. But folks need to voice their complaints to Washington.

As a disabled Veteran I will say that the International Office has worked and assisted me in specific areas and I am grateful for Hospital Nacional. My quality of care has been excellent and I do not have to wait months to see a doctor like I did in the states.

Want Tricare Coverage in Panama? Then be nice...
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 12 2010 @ 07:16 PM EST

How about Hospitals accepting Foreign Medical Program and CHAMPVA Program?
Who handles Local questions?

Want Tricare Coverage in Panama? Then be nice...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 23 2010 @ 06:58 PM EST

As I have traveled the world, I have had many experiences with TRICARE. To keep it simple, I use Standard and TRICARE Supplemental Insurance from AMRA.

In addition, we all need to keep an eye on news from Congress and the DoD regarding changes they are considering in the 2012 defense budget. Once again, we might have to make our voices heard to keep the benefits we have earned through our service and duty. Love Panama.