Living in Mexico, and San Miguel in particular, is easy. Becoming seriously ill, injured or dying in Mexico can be another matter altogether. While preparation won’t eliminate difficult situations, being prepared for illness and death by knowing what one needs to do to work with the Mexican medical system will make the process much easier for the patient and the families and friends who may be called on.
For many of us being healthy means we don’t think about the need of having a local doctor should we become ill. Or we’re here only on a vacation or for just a few months. What could possibly happen? And there are those who think that if they become ill they’ll simply hop on a plane and fly to their doctor in their home country. This might be possible if the condition or injury isn’t too serious at onset, or develops slowly.
But what if . . .
You wake with crushing chest pain and difficulty breathing
You have a stroke
You break your hip
You have sudden and intense abdominal pain that won’t go away
You’re involved in a traffic accident that has caused broken bones and internal bleeding
You survive well into your old age with few problems and one morning you simply don’t wake up.
For most of us, nothing will happen suddenly. As we age, we begin to deteriorate. Our eyesight diminishes, our hearing fails, our energy flags. Maybe we stumble or drop things more often. We have time to search out a doctor, time to return to the medical system and insurance coverage with which we’re familiar. Many people do have that luxury and the financial ability, and take advantage of it.
But none of us is immune to the possibility of needing immediate medical treatment, or of dying in a foreign country, no matter how old we are or how long we’ve lived here. Not all of us have the funds to fly to our home country. And if we’re seriously ill, the airlines may not accept us as passengers until we are medically stabilized.
What happens if you’re traveling in Mexico and you require medical attention? Not all tourist destinations have quality medical facilities, and some areas have few medical resources. Certainly not all medical personnel will be able to communicate with you in your native tongue. How do you tell them your medical history and concerns?
Unlike most Laboratories and Pharmacies in your home country, lab tests and many drugs can be accessed without a doctor’s prescription. For your peace of mind you might consider getting a second test done at another lab if you have any questions about the accuracy.
Those of us who have been to a doctor have realized that oftentimes medical visits, tests and treatments are not expensive, and thus think that medicine in Mexico is quite affordable. That may be true on the small scale, but when taking in the costs of hospitalization, surgery, extended treatments for chronic and difficult conditions, transportation to different facilities, the costs can add up rapidly. Most hospitals in Mexico will not accept insurance and expect at least a substantial deposit before admission, with the balance due at discharge. IVA, the Mexican value added tax, is part of every hospital bill; your room rate may be minimal, but the added 15% can add up. Your insurance may reimburse you for your medical expenses, but they won’t cover IVA.
Not all Insurance Policies will cover you while you’re living and traveling in Mexico. It is in your best interest to check with your carrier prior to travel or relocation. There are several policies available within Mexico and internationally.
Medicare may cover health care while you are traveling or if you have an appropriate Medgap policy under certain and very restrictive conditions. Medicare will not cover you if you are living outside of the U.S. Medigap policies, as described in the Medicare & You booklet, will cover some expenses for a limited time.
You may consider being a member of the IMSS or Seguro Popular, both programs operated by different departments of the Mexican government. These are similar to Medicaid in the US. You might consider forming your own Care Share Group with trusted friends to assist and support you in health related issues.If you plan to die in Mexico preparing for your death helps to relieve those responsible for your remains of the complicated issues when properly addressed prior to the death. There is the paperwork relative to any death, as well as the death of a non-national. And then there’s the disposition of the body: Perhaps you wish be cremated and the ashes scattered here or be taken back to the home country for burial in your family plot. Each part of the process requires permission, expense and paperwork. This can be facilitated by being a member of the 24-Hour Association. All the information presented addresses the health care issues of San Miguel, outlying cities and of living in Mexico. This information has been researched and presented for your benefit.
Inclusion of providers, hospitals and services in the Directory does not constitute endorsement. The personal experience of people with different health care providers varies greatly. Our goal is to provide you with information as to who and what is available. It’s up to you to decide how you will use that information. Please let us know if you have a resource not already mentioned so that it can be considered for future editions.
San Miguel Medical Resource Directory