Things That Make You Go Hmmm — September 1, 2009 at 6:24 am

USA Today: 1000s of Americans move to Mexico for Health Care


Cross-posted at the Daily Kos.

The USA Today is reporting that “thousands” of Americans are moving to Mexico to receive inexpensive health care:

As the United States debates an overhaul of its health care system, thousands of American retirees in Mexico have quietly found a solution of their own, signing up for the health care plan run by the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS).

One of the biggest arguments against changing our system in the USA is that our system is SOOOOOOOOOOO good that foreigners come here to get treatment.

Seems that’s only part of the story. In Mexico, they run a program that costs between $90 and $250 for “legal foreigners”. They have 1,507 clinics and 264 hospitals across Mexico and thousands of Americans are moving there to take advantage of it.

The program has helped people such as Ron and Jemmy Miller of Shawano, Wis. They decided to retire early, but knew affording health care was going to be a problem.

Ron was a self-employed contractor, and Jemmy was a loan officer at a bank. At ages 61 and 52, respectively, they were too young to qualify for Medicare, but too old to risk not having health insurance.

“We knew that we couldn’t retire without Medicare,” Jemmy Miller said. “We’re pretty much in Mexico now because we can’t afford health care in the States.”

It’s a pretty no-frills system. Pre-existing conditions aren’t covered for the first two years and the hospitals aren’t anything fancy. But at $250 per year, it’s a very enticing situation.

Perhaps health care reform advocates can use this bit of news next time they hear the tired excuse that foreigners come to America for treatment.

Bob Story, 75, of St. Louis, had prostate-reduction surgery at an IMSS hospital in Mazatlán and discovered that patients were expected to bring their own pillows. It was a small price to pay, he said, for a surgery that would have cost thousands of dollars back home.

“I would say it’s better than any health plan I’ve had in the States,” he said.

My, my… Maybe that puts their other front-page article, For Florida, ‘the end of an era’ of growth into perspective.

I’m just sayin’…

UPDATE: First of all, the intent of this diary isn’t to show that we should all go to Mexico for our treatment or even that it’s right that some Americans do. Only that there are other options to our system and these can WORK.

Also, I don’t think anyone is claiming they ran to Mexico for high-end or emergency treatment. Only for the routine care that is out of the price range even for so many Americans.

Again, I think this just highlights that there are other options and that our so-called “best system in the world” maybe isn’t the only answer.

What pisses me off so much about the anti-reformers’ arguments is that there is a blindness to two things. First, that there are other ways of doing health care that give better outcomes than ours and, second, that if we do anything remotely similar to single-payer, we’ll have a system exactly like Canada/Sweden/England/fill-in-the-blank.

Why can’t we have a system that incorporates the best parts of all these other systems, avoids the well-documented pitfalls and problems with them, and truly is “American”? That’s a little thing called leadership and we should be able to learn from other countries and come up with a new-and-improved approach.