January 11, 2011

Healthy Cruising

 We’ve been asked a few times about what we do for medical care while we travel. The short answer is we keep up with all the regular preventative care—and see doctors and dentists when needed.

What this really means is that on the cruising circuit there are countries, towns and doctors that become known for providing excellent and affordable healthcare. And while we do carry evacuation insurance, our day to day healthcare costs are out of pocket.

Mexico is one of the countries that is considered great for healthcare (another we've heard raves about is Malaysia). And both La Paz and La Cruz are popular for check-ups. In the past year we all visited local dentists—basic cleanings were around $30, fillings another $30 and Evan’s root canal ended up in the $600 range.

We have heard that some Mexican dentists are over-enthusiastic when it comes to fillings—they rarely use x-rays, so rely on physical signs of decay. So our rule of thumb is to visit the same dentist at the same time as another family. If too many cavities are found we know we’ve hit on someone who’s too enthusiastic with the drill and we all move on…

While we’re in La Cruz I’ll also check in with the same dermatologist who found my second melanoma last year (and drag Evan in for his own check-up) and then I'll head for a mammogram and see a well-regarded gyno for the rest of my annual check-up.

Between preventative care, prescriptions, two eye doctor visits and glasses, surprise skin-cancer treatments and a surprise root canal our healthcare expenses were about $1000 last year. Which is the same as our health insurance costs at home… Technically we could go home for check-ups (and we do know many cruisers who do) but we’re confident enough in the Mexican system that for preventative care and day-to-day follow-up care we’re happy here.

9 comments:

Del Viento said...

Diane, thank you for the info and perspective. I'd love to see a post on measures you and Maia, both so fair skinned, take to avoid over-exposure to the sun in that lifestyle. My daughter, Eleanor, and I are both very fair and my wife Windy is literally considering a commercial sized mount-on-the-wall soap dispenser for dispersing sun screen, right by the companionway. She's got us on a year-long program to evaluate every brand of sun screen she determines has the right ingrediants. You get the picture: it's a big deal for her (and me). Anyway, I enjoy your blog, Michael soon to be on s/v Del Viento.

Suzanne said...

Thanks for the info. Your boat is something else. Great job - it's so cool!
Stay warm and safe!

Suzanne

Steve and Lulu said...

Care to recommend a dentist in La Paz? We're about ready to seek one out for a cleaning.

-Steve & Lulu

Diane, Evan and Maia said...

Hey Steve and Lulu--we haven't loved any of the dentists we've visited in La Paz. The female dentist up by the Govenor's palace (I can't recall her name) is often recommended. Her english is good and her office is lovely, but she seems to want to replace a lot of fillings...
Best bet is probably to ask on the net. Ev and I decided to wait until we got to La Cruz for cleaning because we had trouble in La Paz.

Diane, Evan and Maia said...

Hey Michael,
I've posted on it. Honestly though the best thing you can do are find UV rash guard that your girls LOVE. We really liked the choices at Landsend and stocked up there.

Karen said...

the clinic/hospital at Taiohae, Nuku Hiva got rave reviews from a few people and I went to a clinic in Tahiti that was also easy and very cheap! health care in the south pacific, overall, seemed pretty good, usually manned by French-trained doctors (in Fr. Poly.) In fiji, we heard that there were a fair amount of NZ/Aus drs practicing in Suva. The best part is that all the healthcare was so inexpensive! In tahiti, I paid $40 for what i easily would have paid $100+ for here in the US, out of pocket.

Sara Johnson said...

Oh boy we can't wait to be down in Mexico for yet another reason! We paid about $15K in premiums and copays for our family of four this past year in the US. And that's with great coverage through my husband's state gov't job! I keep worrying about not having coverage once we set off later this year but I forget we won't need it once we are out of this country and it's silly health "system."

Brianna said...

Well I suggest that when it comes to travelling health care insurance is very important especially if you are traveling in a in developed courtiers where health care is very expensive. When you travel everything is possible so it is better to be safe and ready all the time.

Naomi said...

Hey Guys...I'm a little late at chiming into this conversation, but I'm super curious about your health insurance set up. We do the same... cover the day-to-day expenses, but buy a "get me home in a major crisis" policy. BUT...last year we kept our MSP active, so we could be covered if we were shipped home. NOW...we may not be eligible. What do you guys do? Who do you use for your insurance, and do you let your MSP lapse?? Of course, feel free to contact me offline, if that is easier! PS...Awesome to see you're back in La Cruz...we have such fond memories!!