How to avoid a medical nightmare in Mexico
The headline read: “Woman trapped in Cancun hospital and forced to pay $100,000+”.
It could happen to anyone.
The Riviera Maya Times (sister website of The Yucatan Times and San Miguel Times) recently interviewed John Klug, founder of Mexico Travel Care with operations in Quintana Roo and Yucatan.
So John, what happened?
“Recently Mo and Dixie Stinson of Lafayette, Indiana came to Mexico to attend their daughter’s wedding. Dixie encountered chest pains and was taken to Amerimed Hospital in Cancun. The doctors said she needed surgery and required a $30,000 payment up front which max’d out the couple’s credit cards. Then they were told that Dixie needed a second operation and that an additional $30,000 had to be paid. At this point extended family was contacted and soon those cards were also max’d out.
Meanwhile the bills kept mounting and a nationwide “GoFundMe” campaign was begun. Long story short, eventually the bills were over $107,000 and the couple couldn’t get out of the hospital without payment in full. At this point the US Embassy became involved, the Stinson’s congressman, lawyers, etc. An utter nightmare. You can read several articles about the saga by doing a Google search, “Indiana woman trapped in Cancun Hospital”.”
John, what should the Stinson’s have done differently, and what is the lesson here for other tourists, snowbirds, and expats?
“Hindsight is always perfect, but there are some lessons here. First, if someone comes to Mexico for only a short time, even if just for a long weekend, they should buy short term travel insurance. It’s cheap, easy to get on the Internet, and while not prefect in all circumstances, it sure would have helped in the Stinson’s case. An excellent policy from a major international travel insurance company is available at my web site, www.MexicoTravelCare.com.
For Snowbirds and Expat’s who have longer stays, it’s a little more involved. A travel insurance policy would be too expensive in most cases for a lengthy stay. In this case, it’s imperative that you have medical evacuation coverage. That way if you have a serious situation in Mexico, you won’t find yourself stuck in a Mexican hospital, unable to get out, and running up huge bills. Instead, within hours, you can get evacuated back to your home in the US or Canada, where you have familiar hospitals, doctors, insurance coverage, and of course, family nearby who can help if needed.
One final word of warning. You’ll note that I said you need an evac policy that takes you back home in the US or Canada. Many people think they are safe because they have some sort of medical evacuation from a travel policy, a credit card program, etc. It’s a fallacy.
I’ve read the fine print from dozens of these policies and they all say the same thing. You’ll be taken to the “nearest appropriate medical facility”. Translated, that means that you’ll be taken to a hospital in Playa del Carmen, Cancun, or Merida. Not back to the US or Canada.
In the highly unlikely case that you are taken to the US, you’ll likely go to McAllen, TX, which the med evac companies call the “dumping ground”. It is the nearest US hospital from our part of Mexico. Read the US News reports of the hospitals there. Trust me, you want to be taken back to your home hospital. Not be stuck here in Mexico where you don’t have medical insurance, or taken to south Texas.
Bottom line…get a med evac policy that guarantees to take you to your home in Canada or the United States. For less than $250 per year based on age and time in Mexico, you can save a potential nightmare like the Stinson’s. And, even though I have an excellent website, it’s much better if you call me, or contact me by email.
Email me at Klug.John@MexicoTravelCare.com. I can quickly answer your questions, present your medical history to the underwriters in a way to quickly get you approved, and can save you hundreds of dollars in discounts that are not available through the website.”
Thank you, John.
MX Cell 984-169- 2600
(Puerto Aventuras, Rivera Maya)
US Phone Number/Rings in MX
303-719- 5584 (VOIP MagicJack)
US Phone 720-570- 7883
US Cell 303-921- 9240