19 June 2010
The wonder of IMSS, Mexico's Health System
The rainy season has finally begun here in Guadalajara,
Mexico. That means cooler temperatures and many night
time thunderstorms, with usually clear blue skies during
the days. Grass is growing again, and Jorge and Elvis
now have plenty to eat. Oh, had I not previously
mentioned Elvis? That is the name we gave last year to a
very old donkey grazing in the pasture next to Jorge's.
Since the fence between the two pastures collapsed late
last year, the two are hanging out together. Yesterday,
while Andrew was working, Mela and I visited the two
animals. I sat on a rock, with them nearby, and lonely
Elvis wandered over and put his head against my chest
and let me massage his neck and ears for a good long
while. When we got up to leave, Elvis followed us
halfway to the gate before realizing that we were
leaving. Mela simply loves these great big "dogs", even
though they don't often want to play with her.
My shoulder and arm are still bothering me immensely.
We've tried massage and chiropractic, neither of which
did much good. We visited (and paid for) a private
doctor, since the IMSS doctor didn't seem to care much,
and he suggested we get an MRI at a cost of around
US$250.00. So, we returned to IMSS and my doctor, to see
if he would request an MRI for us (for free, of course).
Again, he showed a disinterest in me and my pain, even
though we had our friend Pedro with us to be sure we
understood each other. The doctor referred us to a
clinic specialist, who turned out to be an internal
medicine doctor. Internal medicine? Even that doctor was
confused as to why my doctor referred me to him when it
was clearly orthopedic medicine that I would need. The
specialist wrote a note to my doctor asking the reason,
and my doctor again showed an extreme disinterest. I
will certainly request a different doctor next time I
have to see a regular doctor at our local IMSS clinic.
The IMSS clinic specialist referred me to the IMSS
hospital across town to yet another doctor, and after a
two hour wait beyond our appointment time, we got to see
him. He was clearly interested and requested many things
for my problem: an xray, an ultrasound, a specialist for
my shoulder, and a therapist. This doctor determined the
problem to be muscular or related to the tendons with
significant inflammation, which is what the private
doctor also declared. Finally, someone who really cared.
After another hour and a half wait at the IMSS hospital,
we got into the xray room. Meanwhile, Andrew checked
into seeing the therapist and to get an appointment for
the ultrasound. To see the therapist, we had to drive
back to our original IMSS clinic to get the appointment
at the IMSS hospital across town. That appointment was
made for two days later, which was yesterday. Why
couldn't the IMSS hospital's therapist's secretary make
The appointment for the specialist is the 23rd, which we
took to mean next week. It turns out, though, that our
appointment is actually for August 23. Yikes, more than
two months away. Ah, but that is nothing. Our
appointment for the ultrasound is in OCTOBER! Well, no
one ever said IMSS is fast.
Andrew has a theory (and I mostly agree with him) that
what you don't pay for in money, you pay in time. Most
of the time with IMSS, we do indeed have to wait much
longer than we might wait at a private doctor, but the
amount of money we are saving compared to visiting
doctors in the USA with this problem is significant.
First, there is the insurance coverage cost of US$253 I
used to pay each and every month, as compared to less
than that amount for an entire year's coverage here.
Then there was the US$70.00 fee just to see a doctor,
any doctor, and I would have to see my regular doctor
before being able to be seen by a specialist. The cost
for one xray was US$10.00, and I can imagine that the
ultra sound would cost a bit more than that. Here at
IMSS all of this is free (after the initial yearly
subscription. We also get all medicines for free, and
we've received over a dozen so far. Each of those would
cost a minimum of US$4.00 at a Walmart, if Walmart
offers their special price for generic prescription
drugs for the ones we've received. If they didn't have
that particular drug in their low priced catalog, I
would have had to pay much more.
So far, I figure we have saved well over US$3000.00,
which works out to approximately US$200 per hour of our
time. This amount will increase even more once I start
receiving the daily therapy sessions for free.
The therapist at the IMSS hospital also showed interest,
and then he scheduled me for ten visits for therapy
there at that IMSS hospital, starting July 5, every day
for two weeks. The lady who will be performing the
therapy (not sure yet what she'll do) told us to bring
two bath towels and a roll of paper towels. Please
continue praying the pain eases. Thanks.
For our one year anniversary last weekend, we spent the
night at Casa de las Flores Bed and Breakfast in
Tlaquepaque. Our friend Pedro from church made us a
lasagna dinner with pecan pie, and he babysat Mela for
us, so that we could have a nicer room than the Mascota
(Pet) Room at Casa de las Flores. It was a nice relaxing
This coming Wednesday, Andrew flies to Washington, D.C.
for six days to attend the celebration of one of his
Canadian friend's wedding. While there, the two of them
will go to Six Flags America for a day, and Andrew will
also tour through a bunch of museums, I'm sure. I hope
this trip he will be able to go up inside to the top of
the Washington Monument. That view is very nice. He'll
return a week from Monday.
This afternoon is Gay Pride here in Guadalajara, Mexico.
I'll write about that next time.
Have a great weekend.
27 May 2010
26 June 2010
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