Health care in the U.S. and Mexico’s Seguro Popular

By John Toth

The bill from our family doctor arrived. I am apprehensive as I open it. What now? How much did my insurance plan not pay this time?
Being self-employed, I furnish my own health care insurance policy. While there are some tax advantages to this, the policy isn’t exactly top of the line. But, it’s OK.
I like my doctor a lot. I don’t visit him all that often, but I do get routine checkups and get my blood tested to make sure that all the numbers are still good. My plan does not pay for these checkups, so I just pay out of pocket.
When someone in my family gets sick, the policy kicks in, but there is always a surprise in the mail a short time later in the form of a bill for what the policy does not cover. By the way, even though I have a budget basement policy, it still costs about two car payments each month. So, I get taken for a ride with the monthly premiums, and then again when the doctor’s bill comes in for the difference between what the policy pays and what the doctor charges.
There is always a difference.
I open the envelope, and feel relieved. This time it’s just a few dollars.
I have trouble understanding something.
How come we are so good at making people well using the latest medical technology, but we are so bad at providing financial relief to the sick after we make them well?
After we save a person’s life, we sock them with an astronomical bill. And, if it’s not paid, we sell the delinquent account to a bill collector, who harasses to death, so to speak, the person just made well.
This may be an extreme example, but it does occur. I know of people who are in this predicament.
Why should an illness ruin a family financially? The sick do not choose to be sick. It was not in their plans. They would prefer to be healthy and productive.
Isn’t it enough stress that the illness has struck down a person? Why add financial stress on top of that? Why does a family’s credit rating have to drop into oblivion because one member got very sick?
I see a lot wrong with this, especially since my friend south of the border, an American who has retired and moved to Mexico many years ago, often brags about the high quality, affordable health care he receives there.
His latest post tells of how he signed on to Seguro Popular, a government health insurance program, even though he prefers the private medical facilities in Mexico.
“I doubt we will ever use this insurance. Why? You must go to government hospitals, most of which are quite basic, to put it mildly. I prefer a snazzy private facility 40 minutes away in the state capital,” he wrote.
And, the snazzy private facility is affordable. He always pays cash.
So, if this “poor” country to our south can provide Seguro Popular, why can’t the mighty United States?
“Seguro Popular is what Obamacare should’ve been,” wrote my very conservative friend, retired in Mexico.
I don’t know if we are on the right path with the changes that are about to occur to our health care system, but I do know that the way it is right now, financial hardship follows major illnesses.
There has to be a way to save lives without at the same time financially destroying lives.
This country is too big and too powerful to be stumbling around in the dark when it comes to healthcare. And, this country has a bigger heart than to allow the financial destruction of families just because someone got very sick.