Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cruising sans health insurance

Every month we post our Cost to Cruise and just about every month someone will ask, "Where's the health insurance amount you spend?". Americans cannot fathom going without health insurance because it costs an arm and leg just to get a band-aid in the States. Almost everywhere else in the world medical expenses are reasonable and people don't have to file bankruptcy due to medical expenses.

Since we left the U.S., we have self-insured (paid out of pocket) for everything medical. It's refreshing to know before walking into a medical office exactly what the procedure is going to cost. No deductibles,  no co-pays, no waiting 6 months for an explanation of benefits to arrive only to test your intelligence. Put down the abacus. It's easy.

Family visit to the dermatologist, a must for those who live on a boat.


Actually, it's almost not fair how easy it's been to self-insure in a country where medical expenses are reasonable. Gone are the days of waiting on hold for 3 hours in hopes that someone can explain why expenses aren't being paid to the Dr., hence why you're being sent to collections and wanting to jab a pencil through your left eye. The only reason not to pluck out your left eye with a pencil is because somewhere in clause 58, section 32, paragraph 3, about the 85th line down it states "any medical expenses incurred as a result of being on hold with said insurance company as a result of frustration will not be covered".

If you find yourself in Mexico and need medications, head to Farmacia Similares! There is no need for a script for most items. For anything requiring a script there is a Dr. in the pharmacy that would be happy to write you one for about $2.50. The best part about Farmacia Similares? There are days where you can get up to 25% OFF of already cheap drugs! In S.M.A., Monday is our day to stock up on anything we need.  Farmacia Similares offers generics at a fraction of the price that the huge Guadalajara pharmacy offers. Yes, Guadalajara pharmacies are big and pretty, but they cost over twice as much!!


Here are some of the costs we have paid since living in Mexico:

Aimee: Dental exam, X-Ray and tooth extraction in La Cruz.  Grand Total $25 USD
Family: Dermatology exam and procedure for Phil in SMA.  Grand Total $187 USD
Family: Teeth cleaning and fluoride treatment for kids in SMA.  Grand Total $167 USD
Emma: Full panoramic dental X-ray in SMA.  Grand Total $17 USD


A bonus to living where there's a gaggle of expat senior citizens is  exceptionally good health care. Had we not wanted professionals with American board certifications who spoke perfect English we could have saved money for most of our health care visits.

EDIT: If you are wondering about the Affordable Care Act tax penalties, we are thankfully exempt since we will be living abroad for at least 330 days of a 12 month period. For more information on exemptions for U.S. citizens living abroad click HERE.

13 comments:

  1. Completely on board with this, but the big question is how do you get around the ACA? We pretty much never use our U.S. insurance, but when we do we can rest assured nothing will be covered. Seriously, pencil jabbing eye. I like to think of it as an extra $400+ per month tax (not to get political or anything...)

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    1. I was about to bring it up too.

      So yes, what Breezy said.

      I've heard good things about medical facilities in many places around the world. I have spent time in Colombia and know it can be well regarded and not cost so much too. So nice when you can get the family taken care of and not blow through your budget.

      Safe travels.

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    2. Thanks for that question! I will add in an edit regarding the ACA. In a nutshell, US citizens living abroad are exempt from the penalty if they are abroad for at least 330 days in a 12 month period or a resident of a foreign country for a full tax year. The former obviously applies to us. I dont know about any other exemptions other than those, but here is where I found the info: https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions-tool/#/results/2015/details/citizen-abroad

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    3. Good to know. Thanks!

      Now time to talk the wife into cruising. lol

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  2. Funny... we just wrote a post on this same topic last week. http://www.sailingcalypso.com/do-i-need-health-insurance/
    Sadly, most people still think you cant travel without one...
    btw. the best thing about Farmacias Similares is the big foam doctor!!

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    1. I just saw your post. Fantastic stuff. The longer we stay Mexico and see how reasonable healthcare costs can be, the angrier I get about the healthcare racket that is going on in the States.

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  3. Wow dental visit with tooth extraction $25!!! We are a cruising family and are back in the States for a bit (Alaska) living on our boat wintering before our next adventure. Trip to the dentist for one of our kids and they need an extraction. For xrays and teeth cleaning $600, extraction will be $2000+. We'll be looking for a second opinion. We may even look into Obama care while we're back in the States for 6 months. Crazy!!! Thanks for sharing your expenses. saltykisses.net

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  4. Sometimes health insurance is needed where it's cost is beyond of customers. They can't afford it and so government give some opportunity to them to take health insurance. But when it is affordable, it's really unfair that you have already said. I think government should take some policy to make it so easy.

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  5. I have read that sailing in international waters does not count towards the 330 days out of the US so anyone doing passages of any length would not actually be able to prove they were in a foreign country to get the exemption.

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    1. We were never asked to prove anything...and if we had, I have endless documentation proving we were living in Mexico. Our passports alone show proof of living outside the US

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