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Medical concerns about moving to Ajijic


DavidRC
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My husband and I have been thinking about moving to Ajijic. I'm 65 and he's 80, having had a minor stroke from which he's fully recovered. My conversations with agents about private medical insurance helped me realize that no agency will insure him, even though he's well now, and stroke is one of the disqualifying factors for IMSS. If he were to be hospitalized, do most expats in this sort of situation simply pay cash for such a big thing? Do they save up money for this kind of event? We could afford doctors and clinics, but a big or long-term hospitalization could be difficult. Is it dumb to consider moving there at all given these circumstances?

 

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Hi Zerbit: Yes, we can get Permanente visas. I didn't realize Seguro Popular was good enough for catastrophic stuff--somehow I"d read it's really rough in the hospitals they use (bring your own blankets etc). Thanks so much for pointing that out. If you happen to find a website I could study (I can't) that would be fantastic. But I think you just answered my exact question in two single sentences, something I had not found in months of searching!!!

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Seguro Popular is more than catastrophic insurance. It officially Mexico's universal Health care system in 2015, when they signed up 50 million plus members. Don't ask me who decides these things. Universal Health Care may not be known to you https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_health_care

No -the hospitals are clean, well staffed, and well stocked. The core problem for your husband is that they are almost always Triage based. This is a military battlefield term which has entered mainstream. They have only so much "health cake" to give out for free. Then they get to play God. They argue, debate and discuss where their care pesos are best spent. Mexico is a country of young people, a very different share of demographics than the U.S.A. and Canada. While there are plenty of Mexicans thriving after 80 years old, I would guess this is pretty rare. So when you get triaged for Seguros Popular,don't be surprised by of lack of care and additional fees to pay (still a real bargain though).

If I were you, and this is a terrible thing, if your husband has to enter long term care, assisted living, where would you rather be? Some people suck Mexico into their blood, and never want leave. Others think they would do better back home (with no idea of the costs involved).

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Thanks, Lakeside, Chillin, and everyone else:

We are adequately covered in the U.S., and aren't looking for any sort of free lunch, if that's the impression I somehow gave--(really?)--we would would gladly pay for care. We love Mexico and Lake Chapala--imperfections and all-- which is the primary reason for considering it; nothing to do with saving money on health care. I was just wondering what people do about pre-existing conditions and how they handle them.  Lots to think about.

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Yes health care is cheaper than in US but a catastrophic illness, cancer or such can  wipe you out financially even here and even with insurance.  Many things may not be covered with Seguro Popular so just be aware. 

Also no matter how clean or well kept, there is a language barrier and shortage of supplies in Seguro Popular or Imms.  You should know this. 

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And with Seguro Popular, if one of you is in the hospital, you need to have a caregiver with the patient 24/7.  You will see Mexican families send different relatives to be by the patient's bedside all the time.  If there is just the two of you, you'll have to hire caregivers.  That's what I had to do when my partner was in Jocotopec hospital, because I couldn't be there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The caregivers only spoke Spanish, and he didn't even need them to help, but that was the rules.

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I just cannot stand by and not give my 2 pesos on this subject.

 

I have belonged to Seguro Popular for 5 years and I intend to use it as a backup for catastrophic health care. I also have private insurance that can be used in Mexico though I do not have much faith in its usefulness based on past history. I spent years in the U.S. as a health care provider so I know my way around best practice for health care delivery.

Now some facts. I am glad that some have had good care with Seguro Popular. My partner also belonged to SP and developed a cardiac condition which he only became aware  of here a few weeks before it became acute. He also had private U.S. insurance though it ended up providing no reimbursement. He was sent to the E.R. at Nueva Civil Hospital in Guadalajara where he had tests. He was placed on a gurney where he stayed for 46 hours in the E.R. There were no privacy curtains, I fought for the use of four bedpans in a room filled three gurneys deep with patients with illnesses (some contagious), of all ages and sexes. Student nurses placed an IV without gloves and in an area without a sink to wash their hands in. There was a sink in the nurses' station but I only saw one person use it--a physician AFTER he made his rounds. No one had tags to identify who they were and the Nurses' Aides (more like orderlies from years ago and mostly men pitching pesos as a game to help the time pass by) were dressed in white from head to toe. They looked very professional but it took me several hours to discover that the only nurses were the women in white uniforms who wore a blue jumper vest/sweater. I have since become friends with a University of Guadalajara prepared nurse (akin to a BSN prepared R.N. in the U.S.) who has worked there for several years. She has told me that supplies are just so difficult to obtain though the money the government provides is adequate but disappears as it filters down into the system. She admitted that it is difficult to practice good nursing skills without proper supplies.

My partner died at a young age within days of this experience. My personal insurance plan is to die at home in a chair facing my beautiful garden or, if that is not possible, in my bed. Like I first wrote; if your experience has been great I am glad for you. I wonder if you have a health care background and can see everything that is going on when care is provided. I know that some folks will be angry at this post but you know what? I lived it. It happened. The scales fell from my eyes. I still have Seguro Popular but I personally have never used it because I have enough funds to pay for my health care as I go.

My physician recently told me that Medicare was accepted at San Javier Hospital in Guadalajara. I haven't checked that out yet but the hospital bills here are so low compared to the U.S. that I have been able to pay them with a credit card that I pay off at the end of every month. My physician also said that the care delivered at San Javier (private hospital) is excellent. I would encourage anyone who has Medicare to at least look into my doctor's information.

O.K. I've said what I felt I had to say.  

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8 hours ago, Monessen said:

My physician recently told me that Medicare was accepted at San Javier Hospital in Guadalajara. I haven't checked that out yet but the hospital bills here are so low compared to the U.S. that I have been able to pay them with a credit card that I pay off at the end of every month. My physician also said that the care delivered at San Javier (private hospital) is excellent. I would encourage anyone who has Medicare to at least look into my doctor's information.

 

This simply cannot be true that Medicare is accepted there.  

Medicare will not pay for medical care outside the US with few exceptions that do not apply to the Guadalajara area.  

Some Medigap policies will reimburse for medical care outside the US (with limitations) when the policy holder is outside the US for less than 60 days.  Perhaps that is what the doctor is referring to??

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5 minutes ago, Bisbee Gal said:

This simply cannot be true that Medicare is accepted there.  

How long ago was Monessen's partner in the SP hospital?  This is important because the government has been pouring large sums of money into the SP system in the last few years; building new facilities, etc.  Regardless, it's not going to be like the top level hospitals in terms of comfort, but the experience he described doesn't resemble what others have reported recently.

 Medicare coverage stops at the border, except for travelers' emergencies.  Some years ago, a scam was tried by a CA medical group who tried billing Mexican medical care through their stateside offices.  That was stopped.

A number of people  here have SP coverage as a backup to paying out of pocket.  This is especially wise for those who can't qualify for other insurance, including IMSS, because of pre-existing conditions or age.

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David RC, my husband and I, both 65, are planning to move in the spring.  We are planning to keep Medicare Part B, probably with Medigap, until we have been on the ground for a while to get a feel for how long term we will be there.  We don't want to pay penalties if we return to the US within a few years, since we are still relatively young.  I have met people there who keep Medicare and go back to the US once a year for a month or so to get major things taken care of, but clearly that would not work in an emergency.  They seem to either go back to stay with family, but I know one couple with apparently no close family who have a cheap place in McAllen Texas that they visit for 4-6 weeks yearly.  Another couple considering the move threw out the idea of two or more couple sharing a place in somewhere like McAllen, since each would only use it for a month or so.  Those are some things we are considering.  I think I picked up the idea of keeping Medicare at least for a trial period of a few years from someone on this board, but I could be mistaken.

 

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Maybe the best solution;

"My personal insurance plan is to die at home in a chair facing my beautiful garden or, if that is not possible, in my bed."

If not be prepared to spend big bucks in Mexico to get proper medical care.

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Elizabeth:  You are covering your bases by keeping your Part B coverage for the next few years .  Good thinking.  Many people move here and leave for any number of reasons in the first few years.  The penalties for dropping and renewing it are steep.  On the other hand, paying for something you can't use here over a long period of time can be expensive.  I've been here over a dozen years and my spouse and I cancelled our Part B coverage during the first year once we were convinced we would be staying for the long haul. The amount saved has more than covered all our medical expenses out of pocket and left an impressive "medical savings account" as well.

Some people buy medical evacuation policies that cover flights to get care under Medicare.  Might be worth looking into.  However, in case of emergencies, you won't be evacuated until after you've been "stabilized" here.

I like Cedro's plan, and it's nice if fate cooperates to make it happen.;)

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2 hours ago, Bisbee Gal said:

This simply cannot be true that Medicare is accepted there.  

Medicare will not pay for medical care outside the US with few exceptions that do not apply to the Guadalajara area.  

Some Medigap policies will reimburse for medical care outside the US (with limitations) when the policy holder is outside the US for less than 60 days.  Perhaps that is what the doctor is referring to??

Completely accurate.

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Just returned from the US with a med that costs 5000 dollars a month there and 75 here. Several friends have used seguro popular and been favorably impressed. Have been in a half dozen Guad hospitals (San Xavier, recommended/Puerto Heiero not) over 17 years and  favorably impressed. Local doctors are OK, but, more and more Guad specialists are coming to lakeside and are very well represented (Quality Care and Lakeside Medical recommended)

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It comes down to your personal financial resources. 

We lived in Mexico for 13 years, from ages 64 and 53, until ages 77 and 66.  We owned our homes, first in Ajijic, then in Chapala.  Multiple heart attack interventions in hospital, Retina surgeries, abdominal and arthritic surgeries all added up, even though the care was superb and the private hospitals were completely satisfactory.  That eventually caused a hole in our nest-egg that we could not sustain.  Sadly, we put our home on the market and sold it, after about a three year wait, allowing us to move to Tucson for access to both the VA Hospital and to Medicare services. The move was fortuitous, as cancer raised its ugly head, twice, within 24 months of the move, and multiple surgeries followed. Living costs are higher, but Medicare and the VA allow us to keep our heads above water with careful budgeting. 

Now, at 80 and 69, we still miss Chapala, but are resigned to the fact that we are now where we must be, as we have no familial safety nets and the majority of our old friends in Mexico have either died or are now .......well, not home any more, or otherwise incapacitated.

Our original intention was to stay in Mexico forever.  Things change.  Keep your Medicare A+B, unless you have unlimited funds to see you through to the end; no matter what happens.

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