“‘Thousands’ of Americans migrating to Mexico for health care
Wouldn’t it be nice to pay an annual fee that gives you access to unlimited resources for your care and keeping? Resources like regular checkups (dental too), emergency surgeries, tests your doctor deems needed or important, free medicine and even eyeglasses. Who wouldn’t like that?
However, there is no such thing in America today … Which is why thousands of U.S. retirees are moving to Mexico.
From USA Today:
The system has flaws, the facilities aren’t cutting-edge, and the deal may not last long because the Mexican government said in a recent report that it is “notorious” for losing money. But for now, retirees say they’re getting a bargain.
“It was one of the primary reasons I moved here,” said Judy Harvey of Prescott Valley, who now lives in Alamos, Sonora. “I couldn’t afford health care in the United States. … To me, this is the best system that there is.”
It’s unclear how many Americans use IMSS, but with between 40,000 and 80,000 U.S. retirees living in Mexico, the number probably runs “well into the thousands,” said David Warner, a public policy professor at the University of Texas.
“They take very good care of us,” said Jessica Moyal, 59, of Hollywood, Fla., who now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, a popular retirement enclave for Americans
The paper adds that officials with the Institute of Mexican Social Security, which operates the program, caution that if thousands more Americans flock into the country to take advantage of its progressive health coverage plan, it would not be sustainable.
The paper also notes that hospital rooms are not afforded the luxury of a television or phone and nurses are in short supply, so patients often need to relay on friends and family to help with basic things like bathing. “[And] Mexico’s overloaded court system doesn’t provide much recourse if something goes wrong.”
But with a baseline for quality care as provided by doctors, many U.S. retirees living in Mexico use it as a low-cost program for emergencies, keeping a U.S.-based private policy for non-emergency procedures.
Finally, the paper notes the story of Ron and Jemmy Miller, from Shawano, Wisconsin, who retired and moved to Mexico after hearing about the program.
The IMSS system is similar to an HMO in the United States, Jemmy Miller said. Patients are assigned a primary care physician and given a passport-size ID booklet that includes records of appointments. The doctor can refer patients to specialists, a bigger hospital or one of the IMSS specialty hospitals in cities such as Guadalajara or Mexico City.
In 2007, Ron Miller got appendicitis and had emergency surgery at the local IMSS hospital. He was in the hospital for about a week and had a double room to himself. The food was good, the nurses were attentive, and doctors stopped by three or four times a day to check on him, he said. At the end of it all, there was no bill, just an entry in the ID booklet.
The Millers may soon move back to the United States, but Jemmy Miller said they want to try to maintain the IMSS coverage. “If something big really comes up, we’d probably come back to Mexico,” she said.
On the other (other) side of the Rio Grande river, the debate over health insurance reform is only heating up after a long, hot August chalk full of raucous, angry health care forums.
While congressional Democrats are still holding out to convince at least a few Republicans that a not-for-profit, public health insurance option is necessary to introduce competition into the private insurance game, the liberal bloc may be faced with going it along and passing the president’s agenda via a bureaucratic measure known as reconciliation.
A recent study by activist organization Health Care for American Now finds that shrinking health insurance market competition and enormous consolidation has produced a situation in which large insurers control vast regions of the country, largely working together to raise rates and increase denials.
The study claims that health insurance premiums in the United States have swelled on average over 87 percent in just the last six years.
The United States has over 46 million uninsured citizens.
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