Wednesday, March 31, 2010

the price is perfecto

Felipe, over at The Zapata Tales, has some strong opinions about what he likes (and does not like) about Mexico.

Mexican medical care, he likes.

Me, too.

While I was prone on the gurney awaiting surgery, I had little to occupy my mind.  So, I thought about what any red-blooded American thinks about under similar circumstances.  What is this going to cost me?

I do not have health insurance.  There is no need to go into the reasons I chose this course, other than to say I do not expect other people to pay for my food and housing, why should they pay for my medical bills?

If I had the same injury in Oregon, I would probably pay around 16 to 25 thousand dollars just for the surgery.  Or so I guessed, based on my litigation experience. 

Two days in the hospital would cost maybe an additional three grand.  So, maybe $28,000.  (My sources indicate my guess is within the margin of error.)

When I was getting ready to leave, my angel flew in with a credit card slip for my signature.  I knew that Mexican medical charges are reasonable.  I have had treatments during the last year down here.

So, imagine my surprise when I looked down at the credit slip to see -- $60,611.11!

It took me a moment to remember I was in Mexico.  The bill was in pesos, not dollars.

In US dollars, that seemingly large bill dwindles to just under $4,500.

For the price of a cruise, I was treated as royalty for two days, had my bones photographed, and was given a reconstructed right ankle -- along with some rather stylish bandaging.  All at free market prices. 

80% less than the same care in The States.

If I had chosen a hospital that did not cater to upscale expatriates and upper middle class Mexicans, the bill would have been much less.

In truth, I would have preferred the cruise.  I undoubtedly chose the wrong door while visiting Monty Hall.

Of course, I will get to do some of my own price comparisons when I return to Oregon in just over two weeks.  That should be an interesting experience.  I had best reload my credit card.

When the doctor released me, he asked me to see him in two weeks to have my dressings changed.  I intend to do that at the start of next week.

I may then have a better idea how long I am going to be spending on crutches.

There must be another adventure waiting out there.


Todd said...

Wow, the high price of the tourist destination! LOL

My wife's surgery and 3 days in the ritzy Star Medica hospital in Morelia cost us just a little over half of what your did.

And these hospitals seem to have more in common with a high end resort!


Anonymous said...

i have a feeling that it would have cost quite a bit more than what you estimated if you'd been in the states.

is daryl flying down to drive home with you or do you plan to leave your vehicle?

your sense of humor has remained intact-so good to see how well you are doing with all of this. getting upset wouldn't change anything anyway. i admire your positive outlook on life.

speaking of cruises, we leave on ours on the 11th. still trying to take off a few more lbs. which i will undoubtedly gain right back.

take care steve know that i am praying for your speedy recovery.

tu amiga,


Felipe said...

A sterling example, señor, of the wonderful health-care system we have in Mexico and, as you point out, you were in a classy joint. You could have gotten the same thing done elsewhere for a fraction of what you paid, and it would have been done well. You likely, however, would not have encountered anyone who speaks English. And maybe there would have been little to no anesthetic but hey! It´s an imperfect world.

Not only can you pay for medical charges here with a credit card, you can also arrange time payments if you don´t have a credit card.

Obamacare? Bah, I say.

Chrissy y Keith said...

I am very interested in this as our youngest daughter (25) just dislocated and broker her wrist in 2 places on Monday. They set everything and put her in a cast, but they wont know until THursday if they need to operate or not. She is uninsured and if the answer is yes, then she will probably fly to PV and get a second opinion and bid...Operations in Juneau are twice the amount as any where else in the states.

Anonymous said...

What effects if any are retired North Americans having on the Mexican health care system -- good, bad, indifferent?


Anonymous said...

You have a great attitude towards your injury. That should help the healing process.


Tancho said...

I think your estimate is a little on the low side based on what fiends have told us who are located in Califronia. I wonder what those escalated costs would have been had your profession not blossemed into a instant lottery for many. After all I know you wouldn't think of suing the zip line people, but if that was in Arizona let's say there would have been a cigar box of business cards for you before you even left the location.
Too bad people have tunnel vision when it comes to health care in Mexico, there are some lessons the US could have learned except for the closed minded attitude that the US has. Hopefully we will have enough years to enjoy this before "change" occurs in Mexico. Get all your stuff done before go to Salem otherwise you will need to float a 2nd on your house....

Joe S. said...

Steve we will charge you more in a minute than you can make in a lifetime. There are no reasonable charges amymore for the uninsured. My department budget is 288 million annually.

Steve Cotton said...

Todd -- The next time I break a leg, I will do it in your area. What a deal!

Teresa -- I am flying up -- with no luggage. The crutches would make driving a pain -- literally. Enjoy your cruise.

Felipe -- I suspected there were places in Mexico I could even get a better deal. But this one was in the right place at the right time. And the right price. That amount I can handle on my own. Oregon is going to be another question.

Chrissy -- As you know medical tourismn is a very hot item in Mexico these days. Flying to Mexico for surgery will save her bundles of dollars and pesos.

ANM -- This is a good question. And one I cannot answer. I suspect the answer is the expatriate community has little effect on the delivery of medical services. We are too small. Some hysterics estimate there are 1 million of us. But that seems way too high to me. And no one realy knows. The bottom line is that expatriates here probably have about the same effect as do the vaunted illegal immigrants in The States. Not much.

One aspect does worry me, though. Mexico has a state-sponsored medical program that was initially designed for the poor. Very low premiums with good medical services. Expatriates have been signing up for the service. Like all government-run programs, this one is under constant stress. My personsal concern is that too many senior expatriates will sign up, pay little, and add far more stress to the system. That could be resolved merely by charging expatriates a premum closer to the cost of their coverage. And I understand that is under consideration. But it is just a small part of the bigger medical picture in Mexico.

Mom -- Thanks. I must have inherited it. People remarked how calm I was when I broke my foot. I said: "That's just my Mom talking." And then I told them the story of the kitchen fire.

Tancho -- You are correct on both counts. My estimate for The States is probably low. But as you see by Joe's comment, getting an accurate estimate for an uninsured injury is next to impossible. Of course, the hospital could certainly come up with one. As for the trial attorneys, you are also correct. Litigation has added another layer of cost to the system. Cigar box? How about bushel basket?

Joe -- Yikes! Can I get an angel discount? Wait. That would probably be charged as an extra service.

Leslie Limon said...

I gave birth to my youngest son at our public hospital (Seguro). I could not believe how much the hospital charged for the Labor & Delivery and one night in the hospital...690 pesos!

Babs said...

Remember my whooping cough experience last year in the US? $39,000 and NO surgery for 5 days of unnecessary tests.
Have spent 3 days in the private hospital here for dehydration and it was less then $300. Thankfully.
Luckily in the states I have Medicare but prior to that I always had health insurance.....

Good luck on your NEXT adventure, although it might be costly!

Calypso said...

Steve - Your costs there in tourist land were indeed high - and your estimate of the same procedure and care in the U.S. appear to bee low.

We have a friend whose mother was in intensive care in Xalapa for more than two weeks including a surgery - the bill was around $3000. US.

ObamaDoesn'tCare medical program has little to solve the incredible costs - in fact it is said prices will increase due to this program. The cost of medical service should have been addressed way before any talk of full coverage for U.S. citizens.

My take is this is actually a design to reduce the life expectancy of the aged (including euthanasia) - reduce the excess population. When you are in your forties life appears to be never ending...

I'll stop now.

Anonymous said...

oh, i guess i didn't word that correctly. i didn't mean to ask if you were actually driving, just if daryl would drive the vehicle for you. but i guess just being in a car that long, even without the actual driving, would be a pain.

thanks, we will have fun on the cruise. one week from now we will have just arrived in miami. can't wait to eat those cuban pastries and drink cafe cubano.

have a good day.