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Book review: Mexico-Health and Safety Travel Guide
Old 05-28-2007, 02:24 AM   #1
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Book review: Mexico-Health and Safety Travel Guide

For those with an interest in spending time or retiring South Of The Border, this book is a must.

One of the important things to me is the cost of health care as we wear out and the quality that we can get when we need it. This is one of the main reasons I am considering retiring outside my country. I am not happy with the prospect of being unable to pay for life-saving treatment or long-term care up here in the Land of the Rich and the Home of the Slave.

This book has parts on Preparation, Symptoms, Medical Conditions, a pharmaceutical guide, a translation guide and a large section on Mexican Health Care.

The authors, doctors, have managed to review the hospital care available in about 40 towns and cities in Mexico of interest to expats and tourists. They review individual hospitals and clinics and give thumbnail personal notes with photographs of individual doctors with special note of those who speak English. (It took an effort for me not be put off by some of the photos. Some of these doctors look very indigenous, like they belong in an East LA street gang. My bad. )

They use a scale from 2 (or less) to 5; 5 being as good as any anywhere. The criteria used are interesting and worth considering for evaluating where to live up here in North America.

The cities having hospitals of rank five are
Mexico City
Guadalajara
Merida
Villahermosa
Leon
Monterrey
Hermosillo

Cities with rank of 3 to 4.5 are
Cabo San Lucas
La Paz
Ensanada
Tijuana (!)
Mazatlan
San Miguel de Allende
Queretaro
Puerto Vallarta
Puebla
Cuernavaca
Veracruz
Acapulco
Progresso
Cozumel
Cancun

Cities with only basic facilities include
Bahias de Huatulco
Palenque
San Cristobal de las Casas
Isla Mujeres (makes sense)

Cities reviewed with “less than basic” (to “none”) include
Playa del Carmen
Tulum
Puerto Escondido
Xalapa (sad)
Puerto Penasco

They warn of places such as Cancun and Mazatlan where hotels refer to expen$ive doctors. They advise to go to their listed doctors or to the emergency room (or airport).

Not on the list, but of interest to me, are Zacatecas, Tepic, Morelia. From my cruising of the web, I have found several comments on the Mexican health care system. The author of one web site originating in Tepic is very happy with IMSS, the public health system, which transported him to Guadalajara for major health problems. One resident of Morelia had local treatment for breast cancer there and gave a very favorable account of her treatment. She had family members in the health care business in the US who confirmed that her treatment was state-of-the-art. In addition, they do not mention the military hospital in Mazatlan, where some expats have received excellent emergency care for heart attacks, etc. Still, there are many who return to the States for serious medical care for such things as cancer (the well-known Mexico Mike, for example).

A couple of gaffs in the book remind us that doctors don’t walk on water. On page 22, a drawing of a “tick” is clearly a flea. On page 241, we learn that the charges at one hospital are “…30% lower than the neighboring hospital and 300% less than the majority of US hospitals.” (How do they DO that? :confused: PAY you to go to their hospiital?) The golf partners editorial board consists of six MDs and 3 osteopaths. Did any of them actually read the book? Oh, well.


They have a web site, Home :: MedToGo Travel Health & Safety

All this suggests that one should
a)learn Spanish,
b)know where the closest “5” hospitals are,
c)know how to get to the airport,
d)have medevac insurance.

Ed (where did my avatar go) the Gypsy
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Old 05-28-2007, 10:10 AM   #2
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Hey Ed, after giving this effort my 150%I would guess that what they meant was 1/3rd of the costs of US hospitals. Never trust math to a doctor!

Thanks for your contribution. I posted my comparison of Mexico costs of living in the Feeling Wealthy thread today, and Medical/Dental was 70% cheaper.
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Old 05-28-2007, 09:02 PM   #3
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Hey, Kieth,

Saw your post, too. Thanks for the comparison of Maz vs. Vancouver. Somehow I was hoping that Maz was even cheaper than that. Oh, well.
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Old 05-28-2007, 09:38 PM   #4
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I met a woman yesterday who just retired from a 20 year career in Mexico. She is a journalist, was headquartered in Mexico City but traveled widely in Mexico for her work.

I asked her if she was considering Mexico for the next phase of her life “Hell no, she said.”

Reminds me of a travel and retirement author, I think named Howells. He went all over Latin America, as well as other places. He wrote books with titles like Choose Mexico, Choose Honduras. When he retired, he chose Long Island.
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Old 05-28-2007, 11:54 PM   #5
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I met a woman yesterday who just retired from a 20 year career in Mexico. She is a journalist, was headquartered in Mexico City but traveled widely in Mexico for her work.

I asked her if she was considering Mexico for the next phase of her life “Hell no, she said.”
She must have more options than I do.

Quote:
Reminds me of a travel and retirement author, I think named Howells. He went all over Latin America, as well as other places. He wrote books with titles like Choose Mexico, Choose Honduras. When he retired, he chose Long Island.
Yeah, John Howells. I have several of his books. Sonofagun.
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Old 05-29-2007, 12:05 AM   #6
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We lived in Mexico at different times for several years at a time. I have asthma. I'm usually symptom free unless I get a cold, which invariably goes to my chest, and then I have real problems. One time we were housesitting for a friend in the city of Oaxaca. I got a cold, which went into my chest, which clogged right up and I soon found myself in the emergency room with blue fingernails.......they admitted me and I was there in the hospital for about 36 hours.

I had a private room, oxygen, a chest x-ray, saw the pulmonary specialist, and the total cost of treatment, including antibiotics given me upon departure, enough for two weeks........$253, (plus a $35 charge for the pulmonary specialist).....(this was in 1994). I got the same quality of care as in the U.S., and in fact, felt MORE cared for personally, as the care, while professional, seems warmer and more "caring" somehow, and was given the same drugs and same treatment as I've had several times in the U.S.

I've been in ERs several times in the U.S. with similar symptoms over the years. Just a few years before the Mexican experience, I went to a friend's beach cottage in New Jersey when I had a cold and some congestion. That, together with some mold and dust in the recently opened cottage, found me in an ER in New Jersey late one evening. They treated me, kept me for a few hours there in the ER, and released me. The cost? $1,700 for the emergency room, plus a $450 bill from the physician.....this was in about 1990. I don't even want to think what a 36 hour stay in a private room and a specialist would have cost. Even in 1990, let alone today.

While we were living in Mexico, there was a story in the English language newspaper about an American gentleman who lived in Guadalajara who suffered some heart problem. His family evacuated him to a hospital in Houston at great expense, where they examined and treated him and told him that he needed a certain operation that was new and was just being done by a few physicians worldwide. The premier person to go to for this procedure? You guessed it, a doctor in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Even today we go to the dentist and dermatologist over the border into Mexico. We get good care at a fraction of the U.S. price. Now that I am covered with Medicare, I'll probably see a dermatologist here, because Medicare won't pay for care outside the country, but my husband will continue to go to Mexico.

There are good doctors and hospitals in many places other than the U.S., and often are far less expensive. I'd have no problem in pretty much any big city in Mexico. Now, in the rural areas, just as in some rural areas of this country, care is much spottier.

Just our experience.....hope this helps.

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Old 05-29-2007, 04:57 AM   #7
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Just out of curiosity, I was Googling to see how many Americans live in Mexico full time and ran across this article which I thought was interesting. Not as many as people think according to this guy.

Yanks Abroad: The Number Gave, How Many Americans Really Live in Mexico? And Who Cares, Anyway? By Bill Masterson, presented by The Peoples Guide to Mexico:


Anyway, I always thought San Miguel de Allende would be a nice place to live. Annual temps seem bearable to me.
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Old 05-30-2007, 01:56 PM   #8
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Pssssst - Kansas City!

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Old 05-30-2007, 02:10 PM   #9
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Although Pto. Escondido is on the lowest level in this list, I found excellent care from a private physician who came to my hotel, and even drove with me to the pharmacy to insure I received exactly what I needed, and followed up with test results confirming his diagnosis, and to see that I was responding to medication. The result was complete cure of a nasty infection (which I contracted while surfing in Baja coincidently). The whole episode set me back about $35. While I didn't need major repairs, I was very happy with the level of care.
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Old 05-31-2007, 05:50 PM   #10
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We have a pharmacist in PV that can prescribe drugs based on a consultation and they work. No doctor visit, no waiting, just walk into the store and wait until he has some time for you (not long).

And if you want things to seem like home, stay home!
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Old 06-02-2007, 07:49 AM   #11
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All of the mexicans who can are headed to america. Do they know something we don't??

Mexico? Nope.
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Old 06-02-2007, 10:19 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by newguy888 View Post
All of the mexicans who can are headed to america. Do they know something we don't??
We get the really poor and uneducated lower strata of Mexican society. For them, anything north of where they are would be a vast improvement.

For rich people or even middle class professionals Mexican society has much to recommend it. I have met some upper middle class Mexicans both in Mexico and hanging around Latin Dance Clubs up here. These folks feel that the US is fine for a visit, or maybe sugery for their father, but they sure wouldn't want to live here.

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Old 06-02-2007, 02:12 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by haha View Post
We get the really poor and uneducated lower strata of Mexican society. For them, anything north of where they are would be a vast improvement.

For rich people or even middle class professionals Mexican society has much to recommend it. I have met some upper middle class Mexicans both in Mexico and hanging around Latin Dance Clubs up here. These folks feel that the US is fine for a visit, or maybe sugery for their father, but they sure wouldn't want to live here.

Ha
I second that sentiment and I would add that the only major recent immigrants that were not from the lower strata of their society were the Hong Kong people leaving before June 1997. (And possibly the Jews in WWII?). Even the nobility in the UK seems to be happy to stay there even when financial times get tough.

BTW this really underscores the fact that the US remains the land of opportunity for these type of people. The only requirement is a willingness to work hard.
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Old 06-02-2007, 04:20 PM   #14
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BTW this really underscores the fact that the US remains the land of opportunity for these type of people. The only requirement is a willingness to work hard.
Many of our Chinese, Korean, Indian and other Asian immigrants are very well educated. Some of them are from well to do families, many are first generation educated.

On average, they will all do much better here and contribute much more at much less cost to the US than the uneducated immgrants from the south.

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Old 06-02-2007, 06:02 PM   #15
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Maybe we should have thought about unintended consequences when we did NAFTA. The ability of ConAgra and Archer Daniels Midland to dump corn and soybeans in Mexico at low prices, displaced, it is estimated 1 1/2 to 2 million small, peasant, subsistence type farmers in Mexico. Many of them raised their own corn and beans and sold surpluses in the market for medicines, school fees, and other things they could not make or supply themselves. NAFTA made it impossible for them to survive without migrating. There was just no way they could sell their surpluses at any kind of a profit when large amounts of American agricultural products were flooding the country.

Another unintended consequence that IS helping a bit is the market for ethanol which is raising the prices of grain. That would help these peasant farmers. But they're not in Mexico any longer. And a large number of those people, in southern Mexico especially, who left for the states won't be going back. "It's hard to keep 'em down on the farm once they've seen Paree".

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Old 06-03-2007, 01:31 AM   #16
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All of the mexicans who can are headed to america. Do they know something we don't??

Mexico? Nope.
In addition to the points that the others have made, there is a huge difference between making a living somewhere and being retired with assets and income. It would have been a terrible situation if I had to make a living in Mexico. But now that I am semi-retired, where I live is a consideration independent of the need to generate income.

I recently read somewhere that if you stack rank countries by average GDP, the average Mexican is richer than the average of other countries totaling 5 Billion in population. Indeed, Mexico drew the lucky card being adjacent to the world's richest country.

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Old 06-03-2007, 11:12 AM   #17
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I recently read somewhere that if you stack rank countries by average GDP, the average Mexican is richer than the average of other countries totaling 5 Billion in population. Indeed, Mexico drew the lucky card being adjacent to the world's richest country.

Kramer
The problem with averages is that Mexico is bimodal. The rich like Mexico and would not trade their lives for the US. It is the poor who see the opportunity elsewhere. Because they have no chance to improve if they stay home.
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Old 06-11-2007, 04:29 AM   #18
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Been to MX many times on vacation. So far I have not needed Health Services.

I have considered an extended visit when we ER. I have not entertained the idea of permanently moving there to live.

I like the whole cultural immersion thing... but only for a brief experience. We intend to do a fair amount of traveling. But, as long as I can afford the good old USA, that is where I intend to reside.

With all of that said. I can see where expensive health problems could push people to seek health care outside the US. I am really surprised that MX has not setup some world class health care facilities along the border to take advantage of the wage and cost differential! If costs keep rising in this country I would expect them to do so.

I would have no problem seeking health care in another country (if it were a trusted facility).

Along the same lines... If that ever occurred, I wonder how long it would take the insurance companies to start offering the insured a rebate as part of the cost savings effort.


Thanks the site link is helpful.
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Old 06-12-2007, 06:54 AM   #19
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I know there are gringo-oriented facilites in Baja - I have heard them promoted for cosmetic procedures not covered by HMOs. Generally the medical facilities throughout Mexico are excellent. Fulltime residents find the rates to be about 35% of stateside. YMMV
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