Wednesday, December 7, 2022

US cancer survivor finds Mexico a healthcare haven

A U.S. man who suffered from cancer has lauded his experiences with private Mexican healthcare providers and said that they saved his life. Better still, he said his U.S. insurance provider covered the entire cost.

He has also turned his experience into an opportunity to explain to other expats how healthcare operates in Mexico in a series of three videos, two of which are available on YouTube.

On the YouTube channel Retired Life in Mexico NO BULL, the presenter, who says he formerly worked as a U.S. diplomat in Brazil, explained that he found a lump on his neck in May 2019 while he was planning a move to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, but was still living in the United States.

After four weeks of medical appointments and billing insurance companies US $3,000, the all-important MRI scan was still proving evasive.

He felt unsatisfied with the care he was receiving in the U.S. and so traveled to the Hospital Zambrano Hellion in Monterrey to visit an ear, nose and throat doctor. He was sent straight to an imaging lab for an MRI which cost US $270 rather than the thousands of dollars it would have cost in the U.S.

On review, the doctor said it was a cyst rather than a cancer. However, during extensive surgery,  lymph nodes were discovered which turned out to be cancerous. The doctor sent him to an oncologist, who recommended radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

The patient considered returning to Houston for treatment but was informed that a hospital in Monterrey had exactly the same equipment.

He underwent the treatment, which he describes tearfully in the video. His U.S. insurance company, Aetna, paid for all of the costs accrued in the whole course of investigation and treatment: $25,000 in addition to $2,500 out-of-pocket expenses.

“I have a newfound respect for those that have gone through cancer treatment. All I can say is that it was seven weeks of hell and a year of recovery … I am cancer free. It was brutal, but I survived,” he said.

He added a word of advice for anyone going through treatment: “Never give up, no matter how hard it may get.”

However, he admitted that insurance providers will differ on whether they would pay out for overseas medical care.

In the second video, he invited a licensed insurance representative from Seguros Monterrey New York Life, Anna Caballero, to offer technical information. She advised anyone looking for insurance in Mexico to look to insurance regulator Condusef for information on which provider to choose.

She added that policies are defined by whether they are purely domestic or offer international coverage; what proportion of hospitals they cover; and what deductibles they offer.

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