Retire in Mexico: Pharmacies

Pharmacy Information:
Live or Retire in Mexico

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Every body wants to know about the famous pharmacies here in Mexico — especially those of retirement age. Can you really get your medicine over the counter at a fraction of the cost? The answer is yes… and no. …

The rest of this section has been moved to Mexico: The Trick is Living Here.

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Retire in Mexico: Health Care Insurance

Formal Health Insurance Coverage in Mexico
for Retired People

Living or retiring in Mexico, if you don’t feel comfortable taking all of the risk for payment of your health services through private coverage, you could opt to pay for a formal health care insurance plan that would cover you in case of unforeseen, large expenses. These plans are sold by insurance agents and paid to large companies such as ING or Mapfre.

Click here to see a description of the e-book that talks honestly about expat life and health care in Mexico.

Retired people will know that when you are over 64 you can no longer qualify for coverage. It’s the same in Mexico. If you are under 64, here is a basic outline of formal healthcare insurance in Mexico.

There are two plan types, which are generally sold as seperate policies. The first is “Gastos Medicos Mayores” (Major Medical Expenses) and the other is “Gastos Medicos Menores” (Minor Medical Expenses).

Gastos Medicos Mayores

“Mayores” is for the big stuff like accidents and long term sicknesses. …

The rest of this section has been moved to Mexico: The Trick is Living Here.

Gastos Medicos Menores

“Menores” is for the yearly stuff such as doctor’s visits, preventative health, lab tests, etc. …

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Retire in Mexico: IMSS

Maybe Not Safe for those Living or Retiring in Mexico

My personal wish for everyone who comes to live or retire in Mexico is that they don’t have to use IMSS. I had IMSS as a “benefit” when I worked as a regular, full-time employee (this is called nomina) at a language school in Cuernavaca.  

All IMSS personnel and facilities are serving about 5 times as many people as they should  be expected to serve. Under these conditions, even professional, kind people cannot give good care. You will hear that the best doctors work for IMSS, which I don’t doubt is true, but because of the under staffing and underfunding and Mexican version of the good-old-boy network, those doctors end up serving their acquaintances and clients who know them through their part-time private practices.

Click here to see a description of the e-book that  talks honestly about expat life and health care in Mexico.

I was quite under-joyed with my so-called benefits. For retired people from the U.S. and Canada, the reality of IMSS is quite shocking; even dangerous.

If you want to, stop reading right here. I don’ t have anything good to say about IMSS — especially not for retired people, who may actually need to use the service. In fact, you may not even qualify for it. See Mexico Connect to read about the exclusions.

If you feel the need to read the bad news, let me start by telling you about how IMSS almost killed my husband.

IMSS Almost Killed my Husband

When my husband broke his arm he was brought to the IMSS emergency room where they set his shattered bone without anesthetic and then put him in intensive care with no blanket. When I got there he was shivering from shock and there were no blankets available, but they lied about it and said that “the laundry would come in the afternoon.”

I stood there in the center of the circular intensive care bay and scanned the open-ended cubicles surrounding me. Each patient had a different type of blanket. None of them seemed institutional. They were crocheted, fuzzy — all looked distinctly brought from home. Just coming down from shock myself (I had just come from the scene of the accident were the police didn’t bother to tell me how my husband was, but I could see the state of the vehicles that had been involved in the accident.) I went out to the street and around the block to a public phone (there are none inside) and called a friend who lived nearby and asked her to bring a blanket that she didn’t care if she didn’t get it back.

The light in the bathroom on the intensive care floor was out and my husband had to leave the door cracked to pee. His shoes had been removed by the ambulance staff, so he stood on the floor, sticky from pee, in his socks. I could smell the reek of urine from outside. No soap nor paper were provided.

Two beds were crammed into each cubicle designed for one. The lady next to him had the tubing for her bag of blood draping over him.

After a day, he was transfered to normal care where no pillows were provided to elevate his arm. Once a day a doctor would come and say that they were waiting for the swelling to go down on his arm in order to pin and cast his shattered arm bones, but they continued to leave his arm down by his side. (No, I didn’t figure out that we had to elevate it because I was running around getting soap, toilette paper, and clothes for my husband and a lawyer to help us get through the attacks by the insurance company and the public assistance people who were saying that they were there for our protection, but getting belligerent. I learned later, from the lawyer that they were posturing for bribes.)

No food was given to him because he was “going into surgery” but the surgery wasn’t even scheduled yet. I have no idea what would have happened because the insurance of the person who caused the accident finally kicked in and my husband was transfered to a private hospital where he was immediately prepped for surgery and I cried spontaneous tears of relief.

My IMSS Clinic

The line to enroll at and do other paperwork at my clinic is usually long. A 30 minute wait is normal. You’ll see elderly people standing there on their swollen feet.

Once you get inside, there is one row of plastic chairs along the wall, facing the little reception desks for each little doctor’s office. The plastic chairs are full, and people who can’t get a seat stand up. The receptionists are grumpy.

The floors are so dirty it looks like — I can’t think of another place where I’ve ever seen floors so dirty. You can see black dirt caked thick wherever people’s feet don’t keep it thin. …

The rest of this section has been moved to Mexico: The Trick is Living Here (Second Edition). Click here to read more.

I have more horror stories than these, but I think that is enough to make it clear that I would not recommend living or retiring in Mexico if IMSS were to be your only source of health care services.

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