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    Posted February 23, 2013 by
    La Páz, Baja California Súr, Mexico
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Bitter pill: The cost of health care in the U.S.

    What it costs in México

    I am a retired lawyer, 60 years old, with diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In January 2013 I had a flare-up of hemorrhoids. I was in México at the time. My experience here puts the U.S. medical system to shame.

    At 10 a.m. one Friday and in severe pain, I telephoned a doctor who used to run a clinic in my small town. He answered the phone directly on the first ring. He volunteered to contact a surgeon for me and call me back. He did so five minutes later, saying the surgeon would see me in two hours if I could get there. My wife drove me the two hours to the provincial capital, and I arrived right on time. The surgeon greeted me at the door, saw me immediately, and recommended surgery.

    My insurance company --- MEDEXFrontier, which did what I think is a stellar job of staying in touch and keeping me informed --- advised me against having any medical procedure in México and offered to cover me in the U.S.. However I was in severe pain, and the doctor's recommendation was persuasive. So I agreed to the surgery.

    I registered in the local hospital, and was given a comfortable and clean private room in which my wife was invited to stay overnight. The hospital gave me a chest X-ray and two blood tests to verify that I was healthy enough for surgery. I passed.

    By 6:30 p.m. that same day, I was on the operating table. Two surgeons, an anesthesiologist and two nurses attended. By 7:30 I was back in my room. I stayed overnight, and was released the next afternoon with appropriate medications: an anti-inflammatory not available in the U.S. and a non-opioid pain reliever. Both were inexpensive.

    One week later, I had a check-up with the surgeon --- no waiting --- who inspected the surgery and declared it a success. No infection followed. My recovery has been slow but altogether normal. I am now almost fully healed.

    The cost for everything --- including all of the doctors, the inpatient and outpatient services, tests and medications --- was about $2200, for which my insurer will reimburse me in full. This was less than my out-of-pocket deductible would have been under my former HMO in the U.S.. I would do it again in a minute.

    This experience has reinforced my decision to retire in México. I now live here full time. The prohibitive cost of medical care and related insurance in the U.S. was a major factor in my decision to move to México. My international insurance provides better coverage and costs half of what I paid when I lived in the U.S..
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