Mexico's Medical Service is as good or better than any I have ever experienced in the States. I don't use Mexico's national system, which is dirt cheap but adequate. Instead, I have very common medical insurance for use with private physicians and private hospitals. I have a regular private doctor. My monthly premium is less than what I would pay for a nice dinner with drinks, and I am covered anywhere in Panama. For emergency attention or in-patient care, I can go to any private hospital in the country. My deductible is US$ 200. The first five days of hospital care is US$ 50 per day. After that, I'm covered for 80% of the bill. If I wanted international care, I'd have to pay about 50% more per month. With that, I could be treated in the US with the same benefits. The medical facilities are top of the line... high tech in every way.
Here's a case study: My 10 year-old daughter attends a private school. One morning, she and her classmates were returning to their classroom from the computer lab. She and her nemesis, Miguel, bolted from the line and raced to the doorway. They both got their at the same time, and tried to enter the doorway simultaneously. Miguel bruised his shoulder, and my daughter fractured her middle finger and her ring finger on her left hand. The school called me, and I took her to the nearest hospital. They attended her immediately, took x-rays, confirmed the fractures, and set the hand in an attractive, yellow cast. We walked out of the hospital within an hour. The entire bill came to US$ 157. I'd already used up my US$ 200 deductible, so the entire US$ 157 was returned to me within 30 days. That's right, 30 days. The paperwork was minimal, and all done at the hospital.
For the next four weeks, my daughter sported the yellow cast, and had a great time telling the story of her mishap. We returned to office of the private doctor at the end of the four weeks to have the cast removed. Of course, there was no charge. Her doctor suggested she get routine therapy to speed the recovery process. Twice a week, for three weeks, she received her therapy at a total cost of US$ 90. That too was reimbursed by the insurance company.
The medical attention she received can only be rated as top notch in terms of professionalism, service, and facilities. The doctor and nurses and hospital staff conveyed a sense of confidence without making an effort to do so. My daughter was never for a moment frightened, and I was never once in doubt she was receiving the best medical attention available worldwide.
Her doctor spoke fluent English, I might add. Many doctors in Latin America are fully bilingual, having attended US universities or specialty schools in the US, or simply because they learned English in school.
Today, the ordeal is history, and it was a pleasurable experience, if not for her, for her father.
Excerpted from "Living in Mexico for about $350 per month: Balancing Wants and Needs" in Escape From America Magazine, Issue 30.