Health Options in Mexico

As a permanent expatriate living in Mexico I have had a rich experience of what a visitor or foreign resident can expect for medical treatments and procedures in Guadalajara and at Lakeside.  This post is about my personal experiences. Many have been great, some have been adequate, and a few have been below disappointing. The below story has important information for the current Medicare open enrollment that ends Dec 07, 2021. There is quite a bit of detailed information which may help you to make the right choice for YOU. The BEST NEWS is that after our lessons, we learned to make the right call recently and ended up at Ribera Medical Center. I have earned a great deal of respect for all who have served me in my quest to “be healthy” again. These are my bragging rights after 3 hospital stays and 4 cardiologists, and lots of pesos out of pocket. The entire professional staff at RMC greets you with eye contact, open ears and compassion that is so needed in traumatized patients. All I can say is “Well Done” to all the great servants at RMC. Dr Andres Cardoso, the Director of RMC teaches ER and Trauma classes at a Medical School in Guadalajara. Dr Carlos David Castellanos, the MD in ER who greeted me. Dr Carlos has had COVID three times and still risks his life to save yours. Dr Sergio Morret Rivera, Cardiologist also had COVID and shared his personal recovery treatment. Dr Cherry Adjchavanich, MD is now my doctor for annual check ups or non-emergency needs. Dr Abner Ferguson, Psychologist listened to my whole history (560 pesos as RMC member) and offered an effective recovery plan. What I have learned has cost me over $50,000 USD. There is value in evaluating your options before you seek a medical diagnosis or treatment in Mexico. 

1) Medicare on its own will cover zero without a supplement. If you have an emergency hospital visit, you will be required to pay UPFRONT in pesos for the entire anticipated stay.

2) Enroll in Medicare at your selected retirement age and do not drop it, otherwise you will pay a penalty for every year you skipped away to get back into the Medicare system.

3) Jeff Goble is an agent that lives in the USA and he specializes in offering supplemental insurance options according to your needs.  He has conducted seminars at lakeside and his job is to explain options. Jeff does not help with completing any insurance claims. EMAIL to schedule an appointment to speak with Jeff on the phone. jgoble@healthmarkets.com  CALL from Mexico 001-800-681-9396 EXT 6 – CALL from USA 916-601-7128.

4) United Healthcare Advantage – is the supplement plan that we chose. The cost is zero to enroll, and zero per month. We just pay our Medicare premium. Lakeside Medical did all the paperwork, and filed the claim with United Healthcare. Our co-pay $150 for 3 days at RMC hospital, which is in the Lakeside Medical Network.

5) Join Lakeside Medical in San Antonio, Tlayacapan for any EMERGENCY medical care. It is a FREE enrollment, and zero monthly fee. They verify your insurance then you get a Lakeside membership card and are in the system.  Zero deductible, Zero Co-Insurance, with minimum co-pay fees for office visits at their CLINIC in the same brand new building.  www.lakemedicalgroup.com You can call and make inquiries from USA 1-888-449-7799 or from Mexico 01-800-681-9396.  They accept over 350 American Health Care Insurance Companies. United Healthcare, Blue Cross, Cigna, Tricare, Medicare Advantage Plans.  MOST IMPORTANT! For any emergency you MUST call Lakeside Medical first as they prearrange what NETWORK hospital to take you to depending on your emergency. 

For SSN, INS, TAXES, USA banking we use rented box for address: Bob Bullock Loop, Laredo, TX 78041. Our SSN checks deposit in WF and we transfer down to Bancomer bank in Ajijic. Extra savings are invested at O’Rourke at Laguna Plaza. Our series 7 agent Victor Martinez wired funds to hospital.

Lakeside Medical Hospitals in the Network: 1) Riberas Medical Center RMC address is Libramiento Carretera 153 Ajijic, Jalisco 45922. 24-7 Emergency Services, Board Certified Specialists, Emergency Room, Advanced ICU, Intermediate ICU, Urgent Care, surgical rooms, labs and diagnostics, pharmacy, primary care, ambulance services,CT Scan, MRI, Ultrasound, Hemodynamic Unit. 2) Hospital Santa Maria Chapalita address Ave Niño Obrero 1666 Colonia Chapalita Zapopan, Jalisco 45040 Offers 24-7 Emergency Services, Board Certified Specialists, Emergency Room, Advanced ICU, Intermediate ICU, Urgent Care, surgical rooms, labs and diagnostics, pharmacy, primary care, ambulance services,CT Scan, MRI, Ultrasound, Hemodynamic Unit. 3) Hospital Justo Sierra address Calle Justo Sierra 2420 Guadalajara, Jalisco 44130. Offers 24-7 Emergency Services, Board Certified Specialists, Emergency Room, Urgent Care, surgical rooms, labs and diagnostics, pharmacy, primary care, ambulance services, CT Scan, MRI, Ultrasound. 4) Hospital Pablo Neruda address Ave Pablo Neruda 4150, Universitaria Guadalajara, Jalisco 45110. Offers 24-7 Emergency Services, Board Certified Specialists, Emergency Room, Urgent Care, surgical rooms, labs and diagnostics, pharmacy, primary care, ambulance services, CT Scan, MRI, Ultrasound

350 American Insurance Companies accepted by Lakeside Medical

The benefit of having a LAKESIDE MED membership is found in my experience listed below. Your personal Lakeside membership card is to be carried with you and the ER numbers are on the back.  If you get in a car accident in Manzanillo, or in Guad, call Lakeside Medical FIRST. They have a network of hospitals throughout Mexico that will admit you with minimum paperwork – you are in the system.

ALSO consider joining RMC Ribera Medical Ctr for all non-emergency blood tests, CT scans, MRI, X rays and more. An upscale small new Hospital opened in 2021 on the Libramiento. Limited rooms but equipped for surgery. Very professional staff. MY FOUR HOSPITAL and MEXICO DOCTOR EXPERIENCE COMPARISON LISTED BELOW:

  • September 2020 Mike and Barb were ambulanced to Real San Jose Hospital in Guadalajara to be treated for a positive nose swab test of COVID at San Antonio Hospital in Chapala. When we arrived in Guad at 1:00 AM we were having difficulty breathing, we were required to fill out much paperwork without an interpreter. The hospital would not admit us for the anticipated 10 day stay for two people with COVID – without full payment in pesos of over 500,000 pesos. Our insurance with United Healthcare was not honored. A forced TAXI trip home to wire funds increased the stress on Barbara’s heart. 12 hours after arriving breathless by ambulance, we both got admitted. LESSON: Enroll at Lakeside Medical and call them FIRST, not the Red Cross ambulance. 
  • June 2021 not feeling right, frequent headaches, hair falling out, feeling anxiety, depression, zero energy.  Got full blood panel 5,000 pesos, got meds for Adrenals, thyroid.
  • August 2021 Mike drove Barb to San Antonio Hospital in Chapala as her BP was 210/110. The attending Cardiologist was Dr Garcia.  The doc administered NITRO, BP came down, I had an EKG, ultrasound of my heart and carotid artery. The cost out of pocket, no insurance accepted was 2,500 pesos.  “Go home, relax you are not a candidate for heart attack”. I had a stress test 3,000 pesos, another blood panel 4,000 pesos. Emailed both to Dr Briseno, a Cardiologist at San Antonio office.  He was unable to see me until late October 2021.  
  • September 2021 Got second opinion at Chapala Med by Lake Taco. Asked Dr Santiago Hernandez to see if there were any contra indications with my basket of meds as I still had frequent spikes of BP. Dr Santiago took me off a steroid for my thyroid, that week BP went down as expected. Follow up 7 days later was on Sept 24, 202, I got another full blood panel $3500 pesos at RMC hospital for suspected heart attack the night before. About 3 PM on the same day I got nauseas, had headache and Santiago had me meet his nurse at the Chapala Med clinic.  The attending nurse sprayed NITRO under tongue. Chapala Med called ambulance and I arrived at San Javier Hospital in Guad at 8 PM.  Dr Salas, Cardiologist ordered EKG, Chemical Stress test, took my health history. On Sept 25 I entered surgery room and had cardiac cath. Sunday Sept 26 I was released with a prescription of 4 heart medications and a payment of $14,000 USD for a two day stay. Because Chapala Med did not call Lakeside Medical, I was admitted into a hospital NOT covered by my insurance. A week later Lakeside Med reviewed the charges and informed me that the charges were inflated, I am to expect maybe a 50% reimbursement for hospital bill.  Now I must return by UBER to personally pick up ER notes to file claim.
  • October 19, 2021 less than 30 days after 2 days in San Javier, I took all medications as prescribed by Cardiologist Dr Salas.  Nightly I slept with oxygen (6,000 pesos per month) but I still had major BP spikes and was never able to feel like I could be around crowds, or attend church. After a rigorous PT workout on October 19, my BP elevated. I had taken a total of 60 mg of blood pressure reducing med, but my BP kept climbing. My Heart Rate was 135 with BP 190/95 and escalating. Mike called Lakeside Medical and their ambulance picked me up, took me to RMC Ribera Medical Ctr. I stayed 3 nights, filed no papers upon entry or exit and my total cost was $150.00 USD. 
  • The Cardiologist at RMC Dr Sergio Morett confirmed I do NOT have hypertension, I have anxiety from COVID.  Dr Morett shared that he had COVID in December 2020 and afterwards suffered from anxiety and memory loss.  He calmly explained that it is common and that he personally got counseling and takes 1 mg of Alprazolam daily. Dr Morett, Cardiologist phone 331-656-5307 for appointment.  His website is bilingual and Dr Morett speaks English.  https://www.cardiodinamics.com EMAIL: drmorettr@gmail.com  You can also schedule appointment through RMC hospital at 376-765-8200 – Dr Morett comes to Lakeside twice a week to see patients. There are a few other Cardiologists that come to RMC for patients.

Without even realizing we can sometimes find ourselves living a life in which we are fulfilled by what we enjoy doing. WARNING: High blood pressure is known as the silent killer. It was never on my checklist to go get a CT scan of my lungs after COVID.  At San Javier I had my lungs examined and lesions were discovered which restricted oxygen to my heart which caused my heart attack. I only felt tired, and I was not able to go out for more than 3 hours a day for a year. We investigated and found that by joining RMC Ribera Medical Center for a one-time-only fee, we get a 30% discount on blood, urine, hormone tests, 2 free ambulance rides per year, and a 30% discount on Xrays, Ultrasound, MRI, CT scans for life. We will only use this facility for non-emergency annual doctor checkups.

PREVENTION is key to adding great VALUE to your life by reducing stress. Know your options and make good choices.

According to a Spanish study, 82.2% of COVID-19 patients tested were found to be deficient in vitamin D. One study found your risk of developing a severe case of, and dying from, COVID-19 decreases once your vitamin D level gets above 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L) A higher risk of respiratory infections including COVID-19 is found to exist in patients with Vitamin D deficiency. Increasing Vitamin D intake reduces the survival and replication of viruses, reducing inflammatory cytokine production and maintaining endothelial integrity. Dark skin color, increased age, preexisting chronic conditions like insulin resistance or diabetes and vitamin D deficiency are all features of severe COVID cases. Of these, vitamin D deficiency is the only factor that is modifiable., low cost D can help save seniors from dying of Covid. Loved ones in nursing homes are more vulnerable without vitamin D testing and supplementation. Adding Vitamin D can strengthen their immune system in a few weeks.

4 thoughts on “Health Options in Mexico

  1. Great information Barb! I have been looking for Dr Cherry this last month, and no wonder you’ve been on my mind! So glad you are well, praise God for leading you and thank God you are listening and obeying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great to hear from you Vicky, I pray your health is steady and improving. I edited this post to include what hospitals are included in the Lakeside Medical Membership. Cheerful Cherry lives at the El Dorado, across the street from the hospital and she said “just call me in any emergency and I will meet you at RMC.” Having a local doctor who does not have to drive in from Guad is a blessing. She is not only a jewel, but she practiced in Texas, her home state for 6 years after graduating from Med school in Guad.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One thing about medicare. If you have other insurance coverage while you are in Mexico and only retain Medicare A – it only covers hospitals in the US. When you sign up for A,B,C a person is insured in Mexico with Medicare. Having a supplement like United Healthcare does cover ONLY emergencies. Good to know about discounts at RMC for non emergencies. Not having to travel to Guad for CT scan or MRI is a plus. Good to know all our options.

    Liked by 1 person

    • RMC has it’s own clinic so when you may need a surgery, the blood test results are available within minutes. I have used CHOPO, the clinic next to Marissa’s in Ajijic, the clinic at San Antonio hospital and others. Blood test results always take 5-7 days. AT RMC the results the attending physicians need are emailed immediately.

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