Saturday, March 29, 2014

Health care and insurance costs

We have gotten a lot of questions about health care and insurance, so I thought I'd fill you in on what I've learned. Large numbers of medical staff in Ecuador have trained in the US or the UK and are highly skilled. The local embassy can help you find medical professionals who are English speaking so that if you do not speak fluent Spanish you can have peace of mind that your illnesses are not getting distorted in translation. Since 2008 Ecuador has upgraded most hospitals and clinics, In the bigger cities, such as Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil, you will find that the hospitals are equipped with the latest innovations in medical technology and are staffed by fully trained and qualified doctors and nurses in all fields. The cost of the average visit to a doctor's office is $20 with a visit to a specialist costing a little more at around $25. This price is considered to be reasonable as Ecuadorian doctors spend on average between 30 and 45 minutes with each patient, and often give you their cell phone # when you leave.

As a tourist, with a Visa medical care is free. After you apply for residency you can buy in to the Social Security system and get health insurance for $60-95/ month or you can buy private insurance (Cigna etc) for $124/ month that was for $750 deductible. As a self employed person, with ObamaCare, to get coverage I would have had to spend $400/month, with a deductible of $3000. While I was covered under Mikes insurance with Whole Foods I paid $154 every two weeks, and it didn't even cover my birth control. Bottom line, insurance was only beneficial if we needed to be hospitalized. I recently had to have an MRI, with insurance the cost was $700... Without insurance $ is this helpful?

I read a blog post of a couple who live on the Ecuador coast who spent $80 a day for a stay at the clinic. That included private room (with 2beds, so the wife could stay) all meals, and round the clock doctor/nurse care, including tests. The doctor gave the wife a list of medicines, that she then took to the pharmacy and bought with NO markup! I've heard that most expats don't even bother with insurance, because the health care is so inexpensive.

Another story is of a woman who needed dental work,  she was able to fly from the States, stay in a hotel for 14 days, AND get the work done for less than HALF what it would cost in US. I think it was the Cigna Ecuador website that listed organ transplants as little as $20,000. You can't even have a bunion removed for that here... So there you go, what we can look forward to in our new adventure, affordable health care. 

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