We have been in San Miguel for 7 months now and have only had to deal with medical care with regard to a few doctors visits, some blood tests, immunizations and buying prescriptions so far. And all of that has gone pretty easy.
When we received our Temporary Resident cards we applied, with Sonia’s help, for Seguro Popular. This is the Mexican Public Health Insurance and it’s coverage is pretty extensive. This is set up for unemployed Mexicans but because we are Residents we were able to access it. The cost is based on a sliding scale and with our income level and ages we only paid $473USD total for a three year coverage that included both of us. We do not have to worry about pre-existing conditions as they are covered and we do not have a co-pay. We have not yet delved into using it as we have a wonderful private doctor, Dr. Leslie Flores, who we have been seeing. But we are probably going to go in to our assigned clinic and start the process once the Thanksgiving holidays are over and our guests have departed. Part of the reason for this is that I am Bipolar 1 and ADHD and we are finding out that medications are extremely expensive and difficult to find. (Geodon is $180USD for 28 capsules, Dexedrine can’t be found at all and Strattera is $100USD for 28 too, but we found Ritalin 10mg for $25.) Apparently Seguro Popular covers diagnosis and treatment of Mental Health conditions along with about 90% of medical issues. We may find that they too have a problem actually getting the meds but figure we will try and see what happens. We have also put off going in because it seems from what we have heard to be a real pain in the tush. But if it saves us thousands of dollars a year then I think a few hours of inconvenience is a good trade-off. We will keep you informed as to the outcome.
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The really nice thing about Mexico with relation to my Mental Health challenges is that the lifestyle is so much more relaxed that I find I am in a much better frame of mind and therefore healthier. So many of the triggers that affected me in the USA are either non-existent here or are very toned-down. Crowds, noise, commitments, traffic, schedules, time (every element of this), paperwork, phones, stress!!!, franticness, over-stimulation, fear etc. are removed. If I ever have a bad day I just stay at home, curl up with my Kindle and relax. But walking here is good for the soul too and I find that the atmosphere of San Miguel with its beauty, color and warm people is just what I need. Having a wonderfully supportive husband with Glenn is also a godsend. He is my rock and has always been able to calm me down and center me.
Although Seguro Popular is inexpensive for us and covers a lot, it is also a public insurance. So wait times are long and there are no frills. We have heard that when in hospital your loved ones must bring in food and do the basic nursing care. This is not something we are looking forward to so we decided to also look into getting an Expat Insurance Policy. We checked out several before we left but they were all extremely expensive. Since we are only going to be going through the USA maybe once a year for a short time (1 week) as we connect with onward flights we do not need a policy that includes the States. Glenn will just get a Travelers Insurance policy for that time. I have Medicare so I am covered anyway. We decided to use WeExpats here in town to check out global policies. Glenn has just been approved for one that is reasonable through VUMI but I was turned down because of my Bipolar 1. Even though I have never been hospitalized. This is a real disappointment!! We are now researching some others but I may be out of luck. We were hoping that we could find one that just excluded any claims having to do with Bipolar. Right now it looks like for me I will have to rely on Seguro Popular for anything major medical and then when traveling just get a worldwide travel insurance to cover me too. Luckily medical costs in Mexico are much less expensive than in the United States and a lot of people just pay out of pocket.
For everyday medical needs we go to our fabulous private doctor, Dr Leslie Flores. We have never had a doctor spend so much time with us or been so thorough. Depending on our needs at the time most visits have cost between $30-50USD per person and have sometimes taken up to 90 minutes. She is a fabulous, kind person too with a great sense of humor and we think we are very lucky that Sonia recommended her to us.
Before we left Glenn was able to get a lot of his required or recommended immunizations at Kaiser since his insurance was with them. Medicare did not cover any of mine so I decided to wait until I was in Mexico to do them. They have not been cheap, but they have been less here than in the USA. We decided to get the pre-rabies vaccine since we travel a lot and in the USA we were looking at excess of $1000 for the series but here it was less than $300. We have also been getting our Hep B shots which are less expensive than the USA. The big problem that we run into is that immunizations are in short supply and must be ordered and waited for, sometimes for quite awhile. Yellow Fever is hard to find all over the world and here it is no exception. Luckily we have each had jabs of this and it is our understanding that one shot is enough for a lifetime now. Phew. Flu shots are also on back order here. Luckily we had ours before we left in April but we will be due for another one soon.
For blood tests we have used CHOPO which is located in the La Luciernaga shopping center by Liverpool. This is right near the MAC Hospital where Dr. Flores has her office so it is sort of convenient for us. We live in Colonia San Antonio so buses are easy to use to get there. I need to get blood tests for my hypothyroid problem several times a year and those cost close to $70USD which seems pricey. But I also got a mammogram that was really pretty inexpensive. I want to say under $25 but I lost the receipt. All of the equipment at Chopo seemed really good too and the people were nice.
We have been very lucky that we have been healthy down here so far. No broken bones from slipping on the cobblestones, no upset stomachs from anything food related, no bad colds etc. Hopefully that will continue. Suffice it to say though that healthcare in Mexico is quite good, we are happy with it and we have no intention of ever heading back over the border should anything go wrong. We don’t think it is necessary, and we certainly can’t afford it.
We have heard that Seguro Popular will be finished as of June 2019. We will still be able to use it till our contract finishes in 2021 but then I will definitely need to find an alternative healthcare plan. This may throw a bit of a wrench into plans for someone moving to Mexico with healthcare in mind.