Sunday, January 03, 2010

time in a bottle

God is chuckling.

My plan was to return to Mexico on Saturday after two weeks in Oregon. But some very interesting circumstances changed my plans.

I will be here for another week.

There are two good reasons to live in Mexico: 1) lower cost of living and 2) high quality health care. My change in travel plans highlighted both.

My doctor in Mexico has prescribed two medications for my high blood pressure. When I left Melaque last month, I packed enough medication to carry me through my planned two-week stay.

Short of a Chanukah miracle, two weeks of medications were not going to stretch three weeks. And they didn't.

In Mexico, when I need medications, I merely drop into one of the multiple village farmacias with the name of the drug I want to buy. No prescriptions. No health insurance card. As if I were buying a packet of aspirin.

Not in Oregon. I stopped by my local Safeway pharmacy with the empty medication boxes. It was almost a scene from Cheers -- with controlled substances playing the role of draft ales. The pharmacist and her two assistants greeted me with: "Steve!"

And that is where the bonhomie ended. The pharmacist looked at the empty boxes, punched up my computer information, and donned the face professionals affect when they are about to deliver bad news. A mix of regret, compassion, and pity.

Well, only half bad news. My prescription for one of the drugs was still open -- even after nine months. She could sell me a two-week supply.

But the other drug required a prescription, and my paperwork from Mexico simply did not meet the legal requirements of the political fun-suckers.

Even we libertarians are prepared to admit that long-term medications should be monitored by a doctor. Mine are.

But without a prescription from an American doctor, I was not going to be afforded any of the benefits of the free market system.

In Mexico, if I needed something from my doctor on a weekend, I would find her either in her office or by walking to her house down the block from my apartment. Just like my family did in rural Oregon in the 1950s.

In Oregon, I could not see my doctor until late January.

One of the creative problem-solvers I talked to suggested that I fake a heart attack in an emergency room. It appealed to my dramatic side. But I didn't want to incur a $1000 bill merely to get a prescription.

And that brings up the second advantage of living in Mexico: cost of living.

In Melaque, I pay less than the equivalent of $3 (USD) for a 40-day supply of medications. Safeway charged me $34.99 for a 14-day supply.

To be fair, not all medications cost less in Mexico. I asked the pharmacist the cost of the drug she could not dispense. It would cost one-third less than what I pay in Mexico. And it is expensive enough to wipe out the savings on the other medication.

The next time I head north, I will pack enough medication to put the TSA and Customs boys in a tizzy.

I can then see what else will occur to cause the Divine Chuckle.


1st Mate said...

Good grief, I hope you're going to be OK, having to wait until late Jan. to get your other meds. What, do they think you're going to get high on them or something?

The Capt's meds came from India, very cheap generics. We had them mailed to an AZ address and picked them up on a trip north. Don't know if I'd try that with blood pressure pills, though.

Rick said...

Visit an emergency room in the States $1000 hahahaha. Try $15,000 but of course some large corporation will be making a tidy profit on that figure which is what health care up here is all about.

(Fantasy dream) - walk to a doctors office or home and receive treatment. How do do they afford their liability insurance? Just kidding

Enjoy Oregon, it's a wonderful place.

Tancho said...

There my dear friend is one of the many reasons to ditch the American system of drugs.

A few years ago, one of my employees got some rash and knew exactly what ointment he needed.
BUT he needed a prescription, Doc gone on vacation, so he is told to go to the ER, there after a cursory 2 minute exam (liability reasons) they gave him a prescription for the same thing.
No problem, he was covered by our company insurance. Drugs $ 27.50, ER visit $1400 dollars, deductible $500, experience = Priceless.
I bought some extra ointment for him over the counter in Morelia,
86 pesos......
If you stay up there any longer you are going to have to double up on your blood pressure medicine. I know I would have to......
Take care and hurry back!

- Mexican Trailrunner said...

Steve, what about one of those Doc-In-The-Box kind of places. You know, free standing buildings that typically say "Urgent Care" or something like that. You don't need an appt and I think once you explain your situation any doc would help you out. It's not like it's Morphine or something. . .

Unknown said...

The Senate sneaked a bill through in the last days of December. As far as I know, it's the final bill, and the prez isn't going to veto. Americans cannot legally order drugs from out of the country. I buy name brand meds here in Honduras for a fraction of the cost in Louisana whether it's aspirin or antibiotics. We have controlled substances in Honduras, i.e. need a doctor for a script but the most common meds don't need that. It's a shame to deny poor Americans that choice when we who can afford to travel have that option.

Joe S. said...

Steve what the hell are you doing on a beta-blocker! Metoprolol. Get some competent medical advice. You need to wean off that '80's drug over several weeks and get on an ACE inhibitor. Its contra-indicated for metabolic syndrome pts. To all you out there not in the medical field, there are caring & compassionate health care providers, maybe a nurse practioner or physicians' assistant or an MD, but Steve get your meds changed.

Michael Dickson said...

Lower cost of living and better health care. You nailed the two best reasons for living in Mexico. There are others, but those two top the list.

Steve Cotton said...

1st Mate -- I hope to be back in Mexico soon.

Rick -- It is a great visit.

Tancho -- I will soon be buying my stuff in Melaque.

Mexican Trailrunner -- Good idea. I may need to try it.

Laurie -- It appears the border will stop at least some types of drugs.

Joe -- All I can say is my three doctors have prescribed it and it seems to work. But I will talk to my current doctor.

Felipe -- Where do you think I learned it?