Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Medicare advantage in Puerto Rico

Yes, at my last birthday a month ago I reached official retirement age and became entitled to Medicare.
Thus, I had to do my due diligence and research both Medicare advantage and Medigap policies in Puerto Rico ( since I am still here) and in the USA and compare them.

I am happy I finally can say something really positive about Puerto Rico: the benefits of the best medicare advantage here are far greater than benefits offered by the best in the USA.

So for retirees on a limited income, especially ones that either require hospitalization or serious dental work, it would be financially beneficial to live in Puerto Rico and enroll in one of the best medicare advantage plans here. They could save thousands of dollars per year... at the cost of dealing with local bureaucracy and with Spanish as a prevalent language, but yes, some things are so far better here ... though these benefits are likely to end once PR becomes a regular state ... if it becomes a regular state.


Anonymous said...

To me, excellent healthcare is more reachable in Puerto Rico than anywhere in the US. In the past you may had your bad experiences with doctors but the best thing about the Island is that there is a lot of options.

If you do not like a certain doctor you can search other one easily.

The first rule of thumb in healthcare 101 is to get a primary physician. For example in Cabo Rojo there are 39 general practice doctors according to Blue Cross so you could do your routine health checkups in different ones until you find the one that you like.

How the ritual of going to the doctor in Puerto Rico works? First, go early to his office, wait until the secretary shows up, and ask her when she thinks your turn will be. Then get a half hour before your expected appointment time to the doctor's office, and be prepared to wait two hours in the doctor's office.

While you are in the doctor's office engage in the group therapy session that will be going on since every elder patient on the office will be sharing their life's story with every body in the room, and time will go faster.

After you become one of the regulars in the doctor's office you will be able to call him and request refills on the phone, list him as a primary physician and bring him some goodies on the Holidays.

You will feel part of the group of his followers. Because you know "good doctor's” develop cult like following among their patients.

The other healthcare advice that I want to give you is that if you ever have to go to a hospital try to get to Bella Vista Hospital in Mayaguez. This is the best option in the Western Region. They have one of the fastest Emergency Rooms. Also they have excellent round the clock nurse care (since they have a nursing school) and every study the doctor's have to make in you will be done in their facilities.

In my list of hospitals Bella Vista and Perea in Mayaguez have the number spots 1 and 2.

I advise against going to the Hospital La Concepcion in San German and the Yaguez Community Clinic in Mayaguez.


Minerva said...

Thanks for your comments, Ivan and for the hospital recommendations. I agree with you on many counts. Yes, health care is more affordable in PR in general, and for retired people it seems to be especially affordable in comparison with the mainland. And, actually, I never had a bad experience with PR doctors, only a very bad one with one doctor's secreatary. I've been treated in an emergency room (in Rincon)promptly and professionally (though I could have frozen to death, since I did not know to dress warmly and bring my own blanket)at a very low fee. I have also been treated equally well by a doctor from San German, whom I now have chosen as my leading physician. As for reachability I am not so sure: I was asked to wait over 6 weeks for a visit to a podiatrist and over a week to be seen by an endodontist - and that for an emergency root canal! Unbelievable! And being used (from Sweden, mostly, but also from the USA) to things being well organized and efficient I could never warm up to such a waste of my time as your described ritual of going to a doctor here. I want to make an appointment on the phone and - if it is at 9:30, I expect to be seen no later than 9:45. Expecting me to get to an office before even the secretary is there, then leave and show up again and wait at least half an hour engaging in an involuntary socializing with other patients, is to me absurdly inefficient - solely
at my expense. I expect courtesy from a doctor to be punctual - just as he/she expects it from me. My time is equally valuable - and so is my dignity!
Luckily my leading physician does not observe this absurd PR ritual but gives exact appointment times - and keeps them... and I swear to avoid any physician that does not!