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I Tore My Rotator Cuff~ Medical Care in Mexico 101

Shoulder Pain

While I am not particularly thrilled that I find myself with a torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder–something about 50 years of miles on my body, I guess–I am eternally grateful for the Mexican Medical System that has once again proven itself easy-to-access and affordable.

After both a spinal and abdominal surgery here in Mexico, amongst a host of other medical situations one experiences when  raising a family, I feel somewhat seasoned as it pertains to “the system” on this side of the border.

On Friday of last week, I called to make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist here in Puerto Vallarta after months of a nagging shoulder pain that has evolved into something that keeps me up at night with increasing pain and limited mobility. I phoned the office directly–no having to go through a primary, no frustrating pre-authorization phone tree web or an on-average 6 week appointment wait.

I got in to see Dr. Ricardo Vázquez at Imagenología y Centro de Diagnóstico across from Plaza Caracol, just 2 days after having placed the call.

After about a 5 minute wait, I was greeted and walked back to the consultation room by the doctor himself. After a thorough evaluation, Dr. Ricardo wrote me an order to radiology for two x-rays, which conveniently was located just downstairs in the same building. Here my wait time was also around 5 minutes, if that.

Cost

800 pesos later (about $41.00 USD) and with x-rays in hand, back up to Dr. Ricardo’s office I went where he was waiting for me without having crammed several patients in during the time I was gone. Thank you.

After a thorough explanation of my x-rays, more clinical assessments, a 3-ingredient infiltration injection into the back of my shoulder (fun, fun!), a booklet of at-home exercises and a prescription for anti-inflammatories, I was on my way with instructions to return in a month for a possible MRI based on how I progress. I will progress!

The doctor and his assistant spent nearly two hours with me, never once looking at their watch or rushing me out the door. Thank you.

The total cost of this appointment was 2,300 pesos (about $120.00 USD). While that is not the “usual” 600 to 800 peso consult fee that we have experienced for other situations (dental cleanings, ENT consult, pulmonology, etc.) nor was it a routine appointment.

I am so grateful that we don’t have to jump through hoops, spend hours on the phone, wait for weeks or months on end to access top-notch medical care here in Mexico.

Yes, this is private care and we are grateful that we have made choices to have access to it.

So How Do We Pay?

Now onto the million dollar question…how do we finance our medical care in Mexico? IMSS? Seguro Popular? Expat Insurance? Cash?

As part of my husband’s firefighter retirement benefits, we have an HRA whereby we can submit for reimbursement for substantiated medical appointments/procedures/medications up to a specific amount in the fiscal year. We simply need the physician’s prescription, diagnosis and lab reports translated into English and the Peso to Dollar exchange rate for that date. We do need to front the money and it usually takes about a week to get reimbursed. Not all of our expenses are covered because there is a cap, but many are.

Since our HRA is not a “typical” Insurance Plan, when we travel to the States, we use Bethany Neuman of Expat Health Insurance for our north of the border coverage.

Bethany is also who we refer all of our friends, family, followers and clients to for Long-Term Expat Health Insurance in Mexico & Short-Term Travel Policies to and from Mexico and the States.

Click here if you would like a free quote.

GOOD NEWS!

This morning, after that gorgeous horse-sized injection I received yesterday at Dr. Ricardo’s office, my pain level is significantly diminished and I am oh-so grateful! Here’s to NO SURGERY! That is the only energy I will entertain with this current challenge.

Thank you all for your care and concern. It is warmly received and truly appreciated.

Off to do my 40 minutes of in-home physical therapy!

Saludos,

~Katie

P.S. For those of you that live full or part time South of the Border (or travel back and forth frequently), how do you manage the financial side of your Medical Care? Please feel free to share in the Comments Section below…

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About the author: Internationally-Acclaimed Author & Relocation Coach Katie O’Grady is a 4th generation San Diegan who together with her retired Firefighter hubby and their now 14-year-old twins immigrated to Mexico in 2012. Los O’Gradys in Mexico is InterNations Top Expat Mexico Blog and Katie has been featured on various distinguished platforms including Elephant Journal, Yucatan Times, and Huffington Post. Seven years into their Mexico adventure, Katie and her family continue to embrace their reinvented, reinspired lives where tacos and fun are part of their daily round! If you are interested in learning about raising bilingual, bicultural, cross-border children and creating a life of design south of the border, feel free to contact Katie at [email protected] and on the following platforms: Facebook Instagram Pinterest

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Leilani July 30, 2019, 4:11 pm

    Regarding Medicare costs in USA: I am 76 so pay a hefty supplemental for my health insurance through USAA. The up side is I never have any bills to pay. I go stateside once a year to visit my kiddos and grands and great-grands; at the same time I take care of all my doctor issues. I am usually gone 4-6 weeks. But I often wonder if the cost of supplemental, about $2600+ a year is worth it. My main issue is diabetes but not on insulin. Hips, knees and shoulders are fine; just foot neuropathy. I have visited a hospital in our small town and had excellent service, and know there are great hospitals an hour away in Guadalajara covering all specialties.

    Actually my Mexican husband is going in Friday for cataract surgery and the cost, including the lens, is just over $1,100 US, $21,000pesos. US costs without insurance run $350 to $6,000+. Medicare insurance covers most costs however. But I may check with Bethany for the future.

    • Katie O'Grady July 30, 2019, 4:40 pm

      Hi Leilani,

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience and YEAH for good hips, knees and shoulders…At 50, between my spine and now my shoulder I am hoping to get a lot more miles out of this body, geesh!

      I would definitely encourage you to contact Bethany, if for nothing else for you to discuss your current particulars and to see if she could suggest any better options for you.

      Best & Kind Regards,

      Katie

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