Monday, 12 December 2011

But What If .... ? Dealing with the Whatifee Monster

     A non-OROG communicated with us a bit ago, wanting to know about the famous Seguro Popular in Mexico.   The SP adjuncts the Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social (IMSS) and extends pre-paid medical services to that half of the Mexican population not covered by the IMSS.    It is ridiculously cheap....of course it is heavily subsidised by the central Mexican government treasury....but it does charge the participant a paltry amount for a fairly significant suite of services.   It is also a governmental iniciative w/private underwriting,  voluntary participation type program.
     The pinko-United Nations-Global Warming crowd is quick to point out that Mexico only has 50% of its population covered by the IMSS and IMSSST(socialized medicine w/ private funding overtones).   The former IM covers participating private industry and business and the second IM covers the public sector workers.
     This leaves it to the independent observer to conclude that the rest of the people are slumped over a cactus somewhere, having died of some aggressive form of ringworm due to a lack of medical intervention.   One-half of the entire Mexican population has the IM membership and C+ to A- services throughout Mexico.   Another  15% or so  have a private insurance policy with major  medical coverage.    Another 2% is so wealthy that they could probably build a hospital in order to have a doctor give them an aspirin for a headache to occur in the future.  Another batch is in the middle and upper-middle class with enough resources to use private hospital and medical/dental services that are about 1/10 to 1/3 the cost of American services on a cash pay basis.   Then there are 15% who have never heard of  Thigh Masters, Lady Gaga, iPods or anything else that's important.
The question has been asked various times, but apparently there is increasing interest again, so El Gringo Viejo will try to condense an answer for all times and for all seasons.
Can Gringos participate in the Seguro Popular program in Mexico?
     Yes, foreign nationals need only to enroll as would any Mexican. The foreign national will normally…esstentially always….pay the top bracket charge, which still borders upon extremely cheap to almost laughable.   If a retired couple, living in Mexico, were to sign up this year, it would cost about 2,200 pesos. That come up to about 193.00 American dollars…for the year.
    Be certain, however, that this does not include the worst cancers, dialysis, and other grotesque, extremely costly continuing-care type services. It is primarily aimed at poison-ivy, snake-bites, pneumonia, serious flu, common fractures, and the like. Much mild to moderate medical stuff is covered, so review your pamphlet carefully. It is in Spanish, but it is easily understandable, if you take your time. Ask a Mexican friend or whatever Gringo you normally meet up with at the cantina who has lived in Mexico longer than you have. The people at the sign-up place will be very patient (pun?) with you if there is not a long line waiting….and they have never misdirected us or anyone we know.
      The prescriptions covered are many, but generally do not interest curmudgeons who would rather gripe and grumble about having green toenails and elbows that hurt and don’t bend, en lieu of taking medicine. In either case, whether a grumpy hypochondriac or a nervous-nelly the pill-popper, there are quite a few reliable Mexican produced pharmaceuticals for a wide range of real and imagined disorders, and those medicines are readily available about 94% of the time.   These drugs and medicines are covered under the Seguro Popular.  
          The gringo client has another peculiar issue.   Let us follow him to the appropriate clinic, where we find him just coming through the door.   He is coughing up a cup of yellow snot from his upper lungs, and running a 101.6 temperature. He has come to his Social Security Hospital….usually a Triple AAA minor league situation…(yours will be a little higher or a little lower). The waiting area looks like Central Casting for a Cecil B. DeMille’s next production of Cleopaetra Meets Ben Hur. You go up to the desk that says “registro” or “entradas” and humourless, grumpy automotron nurse-receptionists take down your information and scan your Seguro Popular ID card. While the rest of the masses wait for their casting call, after about 7 minutes you will be called in for attention….leaving behind about 300,000 squalling babies, women in labour, four skeletons slumped over a desk and left over from last week, and one catatonic old man who told you he was worried because he had no pulse-rate.
      So….in other words…it’s crowded and noisy, sometimes…That it works at all is amazing…but since you are probably some kind of a geezer and a foreigner…you and not they….the citizens….will probably be called ahead of the rest.
     It would probably be a good idea, if your intent is to live forever, and use a lot of adult diapers, be fed through a tube to your stomach, have four IVs in various apendages, be stuperous and comatose for 4 to 6 months, and confuse Doris Day with a  green flamingo, to have your American insurance in force with a Mexico major medical rider. There are also reliable Mexican private insurance policies, with major medical.   It would be good to review them carefully, as you would with an American policy.
    If you just want to die happy, loaded up with gentle doses of pharmaceutical morphine, and/or other pain-abating, legal, liquid things….then the Seguro Popular is good enough.   It is fairly simple to have caring, working-class people with considerable "bed-side battlefield experience", to look after a person during his final days, weeks, or his own home environment.    The only problem is the service is about the same in terms of quality but it costs a lot less.
    This is a short form of the answer.   It is certain that there are anecdotal accounts that would say that the Gringo Viejo is being too soft or too hard on the Mexican effort to extend prepaid insurance for medical service to the impoverished, the hypochondriacs, and the people with American/Canadian/British sensibility.

Thanks, as always for your time and interest.   Remember all comments and questions are dealt with as quickly as we run across them, and it doesn't cost a thing!
The Old Gringo