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Old 20-09-2012, 22:38   #1
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Can You Share Your Medical Experiences Outside the United States or Europe?

We've been in Mexico for 4 months now and we've had to seek medical and dental care here. The dental work was about 1/6th the price of California and 95% as good. The medical care that we've received has been superior.
My wife was electrocuted 6 years ago, ended up in a wheelchair and was unable to care for herself for about a year. I don't want to go on and on about that but it was hard.
She has seen about 35 doctors between the worker's comp doctors and the disability doctors. When we arrived in Mexico we learned that a very expensive muscle relaxant that she had been using, Amrix, is unavailable here. We sought out a doctor to help deal with her sometimes debilitating abdominal (growing to involve her whole left side and her diaphragm) spasms. We found an internist who, on the first visit, talked with her for 2 hours for 500 pesos, about $40.00. Each of the next 8 visits were between 1/2 an hour to an hour and the 500 pesos included all the meds and supplements in that price. He said that he could prescribe medicines like the American doctors had ($1000.00 a month in the US) and that they would be very expensive like the American prescriptions were, or that they could try to fix the problem.
He performed many tests totaling about $120.00 and determined that her thyroid gland wasn't working any longer in addition to many other dietary deficiencies. He put her on a radical 6 week diet. No dairy, meat, wheat, no sugar, no gluten, etc. No large pelagic fish, only small fish, and chicken once a week max. After 2 weeks he gave her a medicine to kill all of the bacteria in her gut and a week later he re-introduced beneficial bacteria. His theory was that the electricity had killed most of the good bacteria and bad bacteria had taken over.
Results? She has lost almost 50 lbs in 3 months so she's back to her weight from before the injury, she is able to eat normally and go to the bathroom normally for the first time in 6 years, and her prescriptions which are mostly free of side effects unlike before, total about $150.00 a month. Her eyesight has improved and her hair isn't falling out anymore. She must take many dietary supplements now to keep her system running smoothly.
Our trips to the ER have gone from once a month to once in 5 months and maybe after what we learned last week, never again.
We did need to have her hospitalized last week and we were SHOCKED at the difference in care between the US and Mexico. Caring is still a part of healthcare in Mexico. Between the ER visit and 2 days in the best hospital in Ensenada, the bill was right at $1000.00.
You can read about the incident and the hospital on our blog, here-
Landfall Voyages And There We Were in a Mexican Emergency Room: Part 1

Part 2 will be up tonight.
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Old 20-09-2012, 23:15   #2
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Re: Can You Share Your Medical Experiences Outside the United States or Europe?

What a FANTASTIC story, good on someone taking such a basic approach!!! Hope it continues for her. Cheers
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Old 21-09-2012, 03:09   #3
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Re: Can You Share Your Medical Experiences Outside the United States or Europe?

Medical experiences outside the USA

=

No medical insurance
Pay as you go, when needed
Cheap (compared to the USA)
Excellent

Any cruiser from the USA who continues to pay their crazy insurance charges while cruising internationally needs to do some basic research. And perhaps wipe away the brain washing. Best medical care in the world? Haha!
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Old 21-09-2012, 03:36   #4
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Re: Can You Share Your Medical Experiences Outside the United States or Europe?

We are now in South Africa and are thoroughly enjoying local health care. European doctors at 1/5th to 1/10th of US/Canadian prices:

A basic surgery in the best hospital in Cape Town is EUR 500 with the most expensive doctor.
Medical laser surface correction is EUR 200 for a large scar.
Laser skin resurfacing (yeah, that one that corrects your [sailor] skin and in US starts at $5000) is EUR 200-300.
Haven't checked dental work, but going to
Medicine prices are also about 1/5th to 1/10th of North America/Europe.

And if you want/need chiroprocator work done, it's almost worth sailing here just for that. Chiro visits are EUR 30 per visit to the best chiro in town. But the best part is that here chiropractors are required to get the same medical training as other doctors (8+ years) - on par with Sweden (Norway?), the only other country in the world that requires the same. They do know their stuff.

And the best part [for us] is that they all speak English and we can explain to them exactly what's going and they can reply and we understand them!
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Old 21-09-2012, 06:32   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo485
Medical experiences outside the USA

=

No medical insurance
Pay as you go, when needed
Cheap (compared to the USA)
Excellent

Any cruiser from the USA who continues to pay their crazy insurance charges while cruising internationally needs to do some basic research. And perhaps wipe away the brain washing. Best medical care in the world? Haha!
I would not reccomend sailing without some form of medical insurance. It does not have to cover the US so should be reasonable. I sail on a worldwide € 1000 a year scheme which covers everywhere except the US.

Dave
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Old 21-09-2012, 10:04   #6
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Re: Can You Share Your Medical Experiences Outside the United States or Europe?

I am not going to defend the high cost of healthcare in the US as it is indefensible.

But I would like to share the story of a US expat living in Mexico who developed a serious infection and had to be hospitalized for a few days. The care in the hospital was professional and compassionate, and cheap. After he was discharged he went to a pharmacy and got the prescription he was given filled for a continuing antibiotic treatment.

After a week he go worse and went back to the prescribing doctor. The doctor said that the antibiotic that the pharmacy gave him was not what he prescribed and that was why he was getting worse. He came close to being readmitted to the hospital and it took several more weeks to finally get over the infection.

The point is that Mexican healthcare is definitely cheaper, but is it good? My take is that for 95% of the illnesses it is great: effective, compassionate and cheap. But 5% of the time it gets screwed up or that the best course of treatment is not available.

The US probably screws up healthcare just as often (but I suspect not in pharmaceutical prescription filling) but it does have sophisticated doctors, diagnostics and treatments that are not available in low cost countries.

But can we afford that quality of care? Maybe not.

David
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Old 21-09-2012, 10:37   #7
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Re: Can You Share Your Medical Experiences Outside the United States or Europe?

Yeah.... but how does the Doctor make the maximum profit every work day like the "maximize your profits through rapid turnover rates" seminar said to do at the medical convention ? :>)
Dental care in Mexico is great. When I was there, an acquaintance had abdominal surgury, cost was less than $350 total, his doctor went to medical school in the US. (been years)
The medical industry is reportedly the biggest industry in the US. Everyone bitches about the insurance companies, but the medical providers have it all arranged for huge profits.
Last night on the news they showed a new miracle drug that works very well on treating MS. They noted that Gov Romney's wife has MS that she treats. Oh... and guess what? The cost is $50k a year!
Yeah.... right.. like all the rest of us could afford it....
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Old 21-09-2012, 11:14   #8
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Re: Can You Share Your Medical Experiences Outside the United States or Europe?

The US does not have the best Physicians in the world but they do have the best Pharmacological companies...
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Old 21-09-2012, 11:46   #9
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Re: Can You Share Your Medical Experiences Outside the United States or Europe?

The times we have had to have medical care out side the US we have been happy with the quality.

I would carry evacuation insurance for a calamitous event that I would want to go "Home" for, to be with family as a support network.
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Old 21-09-2012, 12:19   #10
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Re: Can You Share Your Medical Experiences Outside the United States or Europe?

Quote: The US probably screws up healthcare just as often (but I suspect not in pharmaceutical prescription filling) but it does have sophisticated doctors, diagnostics and treatments that are not available in low cost countries.

But can we afford that quality of care? Maybe not."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There are millions of Americans that get infected in US hospitals every year...Our health care costs, however, are extraordinary. Our son's 10 hour visit to the emergency room with 2 X rays and 12 stiches cost approximately $11,400!
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Old 21-09-2012, 14:57   #11
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I'll tell you a salutary tale, a relative of mine has a serious heart condition, he lived in the UK a d was treated free for many years under the free NHS system. Every year he visited relatives in the US, he had to buy short term Health insurance when he did that. One year he forget and had a stroke and spent three weeks in a US hospital ( he subsequently died) his relatives there received a bill for 30k. , it nearly bankrupted them.

Dave
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Old 21-09-2012, 15:04   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silverp40
Quote: The US probably screws up healthcare just as often (but I suspect not in pharmaceutical prescription filling) but it does have sophisticated doctors, diagnostics and treatments that are not available in low cost countries.

But can we afford that quality of care? Maybe not."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There are millions of Americans that get infected in US hospitals every year...Our health care costs, however, are extraordinary. Our son's 10 hour visit to the emergency room with 2 X rays and 12 stiches cost approximately $11,400!
Whaat... You're kidding me, jeepers mine cost € 50 and I was pissed about that., it used to be free. What do you do if you do t have a 10k of money hanging around. Jeepers to ensure against that kind of cost, ( for a trivial case like that ) must mean huge payments

Last time I was in hospital I went in for spilling hot black coffee in my ear ( don't ask) they did an x-ray and then a CAT scan, what would that have cost. ,!! Boy, I knew things were bad in the US, but 10k for a few stitches and an x-ray, sure little Heath centres and big doctors practices have x-ray machines nowadays

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Old 21-09-2012, 15:18   #13
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Originally Posted by goboatingnow

Whaat... You're kidding me, jeepers mine cost € 50 and I was pissed about that., it used to be free. What do you do if you do t have a 10k of money hanging around. Jeepers to ensure against that kind of cost, ( for a trivial case like that ) must mean huge payments

Last time I was in hospital I went in for spilling hot black coffee in my ear ( don't ask) they did an x-ray and then a CAT scan, what would that have cost. ,!! Boy, I knew things were bad in the US, but 10k for a few stitches and an x-ray, sure little Heath centres and big doctors practices have x-ray machines nowadays

Dave
I have very good insurance. Nonetheless, I am putting off an outpatient procedure that would bring a much increased quality of life because this 20 minute procedure in the US would cost me $800 out of pocket. I know someone who had the more invasive, inpatient equivalent privately last year in the UK for 1000.

€50? My previous insurance cost me $50 copay to see a doctor, no tests, no procedures. Even now, I pay $30.

If you are visiting the US, you need to check you own insurance; most specifically exclude care in the US.
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Old 22-09-2012, 05:26   #14
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Re: Can You Share Your Medical Experiences Outside the United States or Europe?

When we set out to go cruising, we were very concerned about affording healthcare. We have a catastrophic only insurance plan that costs way more than it should, the premiums increase 20% every year (!!!), and the only point of having it is to protect our nest egg should something catastrophic happen. It covers nothing routine and has a $10,000 deductible. We will never use it unless something really goes wrong.

So it really isn't health insurance - it is investment insurance to protect us from the vultures.

Anyway, our concern was how we would pay for routine and small stuff like dental, ear infections, stitches, dermal exams, etc.

Turns out our fears were unfounded AS LONG AS WE STAY AWAY FROM THE USA. I mean, holy cow we have received excellent care in state of the art facilities at prices similar to going to the grocery store to pick up dinner. And you can almost always walk in and get medical service any time. At most, you may have to make an appointment for the next day for teeth cleaning and other routine stuff.

We have only had routine and small medical/dental stuff done while cruising, but the hospitals and independent facilities we have visited have been remarkable and well equipped and put most of the US ones to shame. The worst facility was a grass hut clinic on an island in the San Blas when I had a bad ear infection. They took me in immediately, a physician diagnosed the infection, gave me three prescriptions (2 antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory) and sent me on my way $20 lighter. None of that (walk in with immediate attention, serviced only by a physician and cost) could be found in the US anywhere.

One of the best facilities was a hospital in China where I had a 106* fever for three days. I got chest x-rays, hospital time, several prescriptions and care directly from the physicians. That one lightened my wallet by $55.

The US population is living in a state of denial. The US healthcare system is completely broke and the quality is among the worst in the world, save for witch doctors and very poor and isolated countries. How the US still manages to convince itself that it has the best medical facilities in the world and the best quality of care is a topic that can only be addressed by psychiatrists and anthropologists.

It is FAR cheaper and you will have MUCH better care by simply hopping on a plane and flying to Guatemala, Mexico, Columbia, Panama, Singapore, etc for what would be expensive medical care in the US. Of course, this isn't an option for an acute stroke or heart attack, or for filling a cavity (although that could come close to being economical), but if you have any other medical conditions or need a surgical procedure, get out of the USA as fast as you can. You will have much better care, private facilities, quality time with physicians and experience new cultures, peoples and food for a fraction of the cost of doing so in the USA.

If you are worried about language, all of the physicians we have encountered in China, Panama and Columbia speak perfect English. I suspect that is true most everywhere.

Mark
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Old 22-09-2012, 06:07   #15
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Re: Can You Share Your Medical Experiences Outside the United States or Europe?

www.1Cover.com.au
We have this companies cover for 3 month at a time out of Australia
it costs us under 1000k AUD for Europe BUT America would be a totally different rate, they would evacuate us ASAP.....
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