Published On: Fri, Dec 30th, 2016

Expats highly rate health care in Mexico and Central America

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The quality of healthcare is of the most critical things people should consider before moving abroad, especially retirees.  But how is the healthcare abroad?  Here’s an article by Chuck Bolotin that gives some answers that may surprise you.

One of the biggest concerns about moving to a Central American country or Mexico is the quality of health care.

To determine if this objection and others is valid, in late April, Best Places In The World To Retire conducted a survey primarily of expats from the U.S. and Canada who were living in Panama, Belize and Nicaragua. The survey had a margin of error of +/- 5%.

The study found these worries were not justified. More than two in five of the expats received good health care in these places. The expats said that the technical resources and quality of care were often comparable to those in the U.S. and that the cost was more reasonable. They also praised the accessibility of health care and physicians’ bedside manner.
Star Medica Hospital in Merida.

Star Medica Hospital in Merida.

In Expats: Expectations & Reality, 31% of the respondents reported that they thought they could achieve “better access to less expensive, quality healthcare” by moving abroad. In a subsequent question, 42.6% reported that this was the reality. Separately, Best Places In The World To Retire, collected data from over 450 expats, who answered more than 6,000 questions.

The site defined good healthcare by five measures: technological capabilities, cost, quality, accessibility and future trends.

Technological Capabilities

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For almost any health-related measure, it would be difficult to argue that the U.S. is not among the most advanced nations with the most high tech equipment in the world, especially when it comes to very specialized research and care. Most people would say that Central America and Mexico are far, far behind.


An upcoming report based on the survey asked expats to compare the cost of healthcare. Nearly 40% said that for every $100 they would spend for healthcare in their home country, they might spend only $25 to $50 as an expat, while 36.5% reported that they would spend less than $25.
There are several reasons why healthcare costs are so dramatically less abroad. Many expats at least partly used the public health care system provided by the government at what a North American would consider to be ridiculously low prices. However, the private system in these countries is, by North American standards, also inexpensive. Expats said that the payment model for private healthcare in Central America and Mexico is similar to the U.S. model of several decades ago, when prices were lower: A high percentage of payments for health care services are in cash. There is generally little involvement from insurance companies and even less involvement from government.

By Chuck Bolotin




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