Doctors and Hospitals in Mexico

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Is Mexico Safe? What the Numbers Say

I love math. Math is the one thing that makes everything objective. And when dealing with subjects that are highly controversial, I find that math is your best friend.

It's not a secret that many Americans are afraid to come to Mexico because they don't think it's safe. While coming to Mexico is not for everyone, I think many people would benefit from having numbers that reflect the situation accurately.

I'm not going to write any comments, just take a look at the numbers and decide for yourself if Mexico is safe:

a) Number of Americans that visit Mexico everyday: 150,000

b) Homicide Rates in American Cities vs Mexican Cities (figures per 100,000)

Miami: 15.4
Philadelphia: 19.6
Chicago: 15.2
New Orleans: 49.1
Washington D.C: 21
Atlanta: 17.6
Mexico City: 9
Guadalajara: 12
Queretaro: 3

c) Homicide Rates in International Vacation Destinations

Ecuador: 19
Mexico: 14
Bahamas: 25
Guatemala: 52
Brazil: 23
Jamaica: 62
Dominican Republic: 24

d) Warnings of the US State Department:

No warnings for the following states:
Baja California Sur
Estado de Mexico
Mexico City
Quintana Roo

States where touristic towns and  areas are safe but it's not recommended to leave them:
Baja California Norte
Nuevo Leon
San Luis Potosi

States that are considered unsafe

Source: US Department of State

d) Violent Crime Rates

Canada: 712
US: 757
Mexico: 144

Canada: 8.67
Mexico: 1.3

Canada: 73
US: 30
Mexico: 13.6

Please note that this data came from American sources and it took crime under reporting into account.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Top Destinations for Retiring Abroad

In a previous post, I wrote about how the top destinations for medical tourism in the world. Today I stumbled upon another article that ranks the top destinations for retirement.

The ranking was done by International Living, a site specialized in places and tips for people living and retiring abroad. The main factors taken into account for the ranking were real estate prices, cost of living, climate, entertainment, health care, retirement infrastructure and ease of cultural integration.

So, what are these havens for American retirees?

4.- Costa Rica

3.- Mexico

2.- Malasya

1.- Ecuador

Obviously, each of these countries has its pros and cons. Just because Ecuador is number one on the list, it doesn't mean that it's number on in your list. For example, people who don't want to deal with a different local language, will find Malasya a more convenient place to live. Mexico is much closer to the US than any of the other countries, but it's not as cheap as Ecuador. So, it depends entirely on your preferences and needs.

Financial matters are always a big factor. Living in these countries allow Americans to live very comfortably on $2,000US a month. Some spend much less than that, more because of their adaptation to the local culture than because they need to cut down costs.

Also, health care costs are becoming increasingly important in making Americans leave for greener pastures.

Almost 50% of Americans have less than $25,000 in savings at the time of their retirement, and only 45% of them have a pension or a 401k plan. And 33% of retirees receive 90% of their retirement income from social security benefits and this amount is around $15,000 a year. Obviously, for people who are uninsured or underinsured, this is not enough.

Many of these countries have foreign friendly private and public health care systems. For example, in Costa Rica, the cost of private medical insurance is around $100 a month. In Mexico, a foreign retiree can get into the Mexican Social Security system for $350 per year, and after two years, you get full coverage.

Obviously, there are other factors that can influence your decision on whether to spend your golden years abroad. It's not for everyone, that's for sure. But it's a good option for people who are looking for a change, a slower pace, and who like to have some adventure after leaving their jobs.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Best Health Care You Can Ever Get and the Health Industry's Most Well-Guarded Secret

Is this what you think doctors are like?
Look at the picture I chose for this article. Unfortunately, many people think this is how many doctors are like. And I understand why people think of them this way.

However, the reality is that doctors are no more evil than any other profession. I'm not going to say that every doctor is a saint, but in reality, almost all doctors choose their profession because of a genuine desire to help people. In addition, being a doctor is far from glamorous. A doctor will frequently have to deal with moral dilemmas and eventually live with the moral consequences of the death of a patient, including guilt and second guessing.

I would say that a doctor's greatest satisfaction is not about getting a sick patient healthy, but to get a patient to act healthy in the future so that he doesn't get sick again.

The culprit is not the individual doctor, but the corporations that have overtaken health care. As I said before, a corporation's main priority is profit over everything else. Their take on health care is more like this:

The Magical Cure at a Cheap Price?
Like any corporation, they don't want you to be a client now. They want you to be a client forever.

It's the same reason laptops and smart phones don't have batteries that are detachable anymore. When the battery dies, you'll be forced to buy a new one. They want you to buy the laptop now and a laptop in the future. However, this is people's health we're talking about.

Fortunately, the best and cheapest health care is at your disposal.  It's called prevention. If you want a long and healthy life, just follow these steps:

1.- Don't do anything that will shorten your life unnecessarily. Sadly, "doing something stupid" is the number 1 cause of death among American teenagers.

2.- Eat well. You don't need a specific diet. You're an adult and you don't need anyone else to tell you that having pizza and hamburgers and tacos everyday is bad for you.

3.- Sleep well. 7 or 8 hours at a minimum.

4.- Exercise.  30 continuous minutes (2 sessions of 15 minutes won't do) or until you break a sweat, 3 times per week. If you can't find time to do exercise, I assure you that your body will take time to be sick.

5.- Avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

6.- Be happy. This is the hardest part. Comfort is NOT happiness. You have to find out what happiness means for you and make it happen. Obviously in a responsible way.

This is the best-kept secret of the health care industry. If we all followed these rules, we wouldn't need them as often, we wouldn't have to spend so much money on health care, and the lack of demand would force them to make their prices affordable.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How High Is Your Fever... Abroad?

To be fair, the metric system is more efficient
Recently, a friend of mine went to a doctor in Mexico. While she was being examined she explained that the night before, her fever was 101 degrees. The doctor looked shocked, then a bit puzzled. Finally he asked her, "How much is that in Centigrade?"

Fortunately, it was no big deal, but if you're dealing with an emergency you are not going to want to spend precious time "translating" numbers. So, here's a quick guide for you. You can memorize the numbers that apply to you or print the guide and carry it in your purse or wallet

Weight: The rule for a good approximation is 1 pound equals 1/2 kilogram. But if you need more exact information, here are some quick equivalences.

Pounds           Kilograms
100                 45.36
110                 49.85
120                 54.43
130                 58.97
140                 63.50
150                 68.39
160                 72.57
170                 77.11
180                 81.64
190                 86.18
200                 90.71
210                 95.25
220                 99.79
230                 104.32
240                 108.86
250                 113.40
260                 117.93
270                 122.47


Feet and inches            Meters
5'                                 1.52
5'4"                              1.62
5'8"                              1.72                             
6'                                 1.93
6'8"                              2.03

Temperature: Here is the range for detecting a fever.

Fahrenheit                   Celcius
98.6                             37
99                                37.22
99.5                             37.5
100                              37.78
100.5                           38.06
101                              38.33
101.5                           38.61
102                              38.89
102.5                           39.17
103                              39.44
103.5                           39.72
104                              40

When living abroad, it's best to understand the metric system, since most of the world uses it. Remember, it's you who has to adapt to the local culture, not the other way around.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Retiring in Mexico: A Sample Case

Patricia, like other Americans, finds joy in working after retirement in Mexico.
Patrice Wynne woke up one day and decided that she didn't want to live the rest of her life in Berkeley California.

She wanted to retire to a place where she could have a relaxing life, live comfortably for less. and yet continue to work in something she loved. She didn't want to spend her life at cocktail parties and playing tennis.

That was three years ago. Today, she is the proud owner of Abrazos (hugs), in the downtown of San Miguel de Allende, a popular and folkloric town northeast of Mexico City. The store sells aprons, handbags, clothes and kitchen accessories with Mexican themes.

Americans have come to Mexico for the weather, the beaches, the colors and the food. But now, they are staying, thanks to lower costs of living, the affordable health care and a fulfilling working retirement.

It's not that these Americans have to earn a living, but living in Mexico allows them to open business or work in an area that they're passionate about. With the help of technology, freelancers are able to work with their usual clients and employees from Mexico too. There are often positions for English teachers and translators.

But again, many Americans retire to work in Mexico because they want to dedicate themselves to something they enjoy doing. Many of them become artists, painters, dancers, educators, designers, bakers, restauranteurs, life coaches or some other profession that allows them to express themselves or just have a social, satisfying life.

Also, unlike in the US, in Mexico, older people don't get discriminated against, but they are actually treated with respect.

So, how much did Patrice spend in order to get her new life?

Her house, which has a fabulous vista of San Miguel de Allende, cost $105,000 US, and she invested an extra $35,000 to get it in working condition and make it look gorgeous.

Getting her store running cost $12,400. This included inventory and raw materials, lights, decorations and computers. She pays a $600 dollars rent, which she claims is much smaller than the $8,000 she paid each month for the rent of her book store back in California. Abrazos Her store measures 650 square feet.

But then again, it's not about the money. In Patrice's own words:

"Yes, it (moving to Mexico) has to do with affordability and having your retirement income be expanded. But like other expats working here, I wanted to be adventurous and have new learning opportunities."

Friday, July 19, 2013

Not-so-famous Retirement Destinations in Mexico

You can't visit Mexico and not have the Puebla Zocalo Experience
If you're considering retiring in Mexico, you might have heard of destinations such as Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Cuernavaca and Ajijic.

Today I stumbled upon an article that talks about other destinations that are as pretty or attractive as these.  I agree that all the places mentioned in the article are very good choices for retirement. However, precisely because they're not so popular, they require a bit more of a commitment from your part if you choose them as a place to live. For example, you might have to learn a bit more Spanish than basic greetings or asking how much the kilogram of tortillas costs? (Although I seriously encourage every English speaker who comes to live in Mexico to learn the language, since it makes a great mental exercise and it makes your stay much more pleasant).

Sayulita. A lovely village very close to Puerto Vallarta.

Patzcuaro. A beautiful and famous lakefront town in Michoacan on the West coast of Mexico.

Puebla. By far my favorite city to visit. The zocalo (main square) is the zocalo against which all other zocalos in Mexico are measured with. It's also a bit of a museum-city, with plenty of cultural activities to do. The famous pyramid of Cholula with a church on top is very close, as well as the Africam Safari open zoo, which is a delight for children. The food and pottery are not to be missed.

Costa Maya. Not far from Cancun, there are many small, beach towns that are perfect for those who are willing to let go of comfort and consumerism for a much simpler, quieter lifestyle.

Campeche. To be honest, I haven't been there, so I can't comment about it. But it is on the list, so I'm including it here. It's in the east of the country.

Valle de Bravo. If the small city of Cuernavaca, an already popular destination for retirement is still too hectic for you, then you can choose to live in this high-class lakefront community. A popular destination for middle and high class Mexicans.

If you want to read the original article, go here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The US Is Ranked 38th in Health Care and 33rd in Life Expectancy

Today, I read an article titled "10 Things Most Americans Don't Know About America," by Mark Manson. The two pieces of information that caught my attention were these:

1.- The US is ranked 38th in health care by the World Health Organization.

Why is it that American spend most per capita on health care, yet they rank below Colombia when it comes to health care?

Part of it is the system. Health care is based on corporations and their interests. It's no secret that a corporation's main interest is profit. When a corporation has another interest that is in conflict with profit, it will always prioritize profit. That's not so bad in other industries, but in the health care industry, profits will take priority over... well, health care.

Other two factors taken into consideration for the ranking explain why the US is ranked so low. One of them is distribution or equality. As I said in an earlier post, the US has a great health care system, and it's the number 3 destination for medical tourism in the world. However, it is unavailable for much of its population because they can't afford it.

The other factor is fair financial contribution. Compared to other industrialized countries, Americans pay much more for the benefits that they get.

2.- The US is ranked 33rd in life expectancy by the Word Health Organization.

The big culprits here are life style and food. Americans, in general, like comfort, and unfortunately that means less exercise. The lack of good public transportation also means that we walk less and drive more. For many, their days consist of sitting all day long in an office and then going home and sitting at the table to eat dinner and then sitting on a couch to watch TV.

Then there's the food many people eat, which is full of fat and oil and salt and sugar. And not only that, but some of it is loaded with chemicals like preservatives and artificial colors.

This is not a recipe for a long life. And when your body fails from lack of exercise, excess of sugar and salt, or gets poisoned by chemicals, the treatments you need may be beyond your financial reach.

The solution to the health care problem in the US doesn't rely on a magic pill, but on a change of culture and attitude, which is much harder to do.