Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Looks Like It May Be Over

Every time I think it's over it happens again.  We follow the forecast and each day it's cloudy, overcast, and very humid.  Forecasts aren't always right and when you see the sun come out you heave a sigh of relief.  False hope.  I did that and it rained for three hours last night non-stop.  I had put clarifier in the water to settle the green and then vacuum it out.  It didn't work with more rain.  Today, it's more of the same but tomorrow we have only a 20% chance of rain.  Good.  I can get the pool cleaned up and cut the grass.  You've gotta love COVID, I can't escape my duties.  Kevin said today, "Now I know why I don't own a home".  My thoughts exactly.

We've had the opportunity in the last couple of days to have Fact Time or phone calls from several Canadian Rvers.  It's always fun to catch up and it really brings your spirits up.  With the bad weather, it has been hard to get out and do my power walks although I have kept up with the weights.  

I made a batch of oatmeal cookies yesterday.   The new oven works great.  I had concerns about the temperature settings but I also place an oven thermometer in the oven as a matching monitor.  It's working just fine.   The cookies, by the way, turned out great.  I divided them up and put half into the freezer.  

COVID continues to take its toll.  As of yesterday, there were 44,876 deaths.  The estimate for August 1st, just three days away, is 47,500.  The focus, however, is not on health but selling that damn presidential plane.   Presidente Dingus will never get rid of the needle in his side.  He is just the same as the northern fella and is constantly telling lies and spreading misinformation.  The main reason we can't flatten the curve.  I wish he gave his daily sermons in English so people to the north could see just what an idiot we have as a president.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Hurricane A Comin' - Pool Finished Just In Time

I may have been wrong.  It looks like Hanna is going to pass by us on it's turn to the north.  It's very humid right now even though we are still in the mid-80s F.  They say around 5 p.m. we should start seeing some action.  It was just two weeks ago we upgraded our home insurance and doubled the value.  Everything included it was $105 USD for the year.  That's really nothing for the coverage and peace of mind. 

[Image of probabilities of 34-kt winds]

The pool was finished on Thursday afternoon and we began filling it last night.  It still has a way to go but if there is no storm we can enjoy the water tomorrow.  

I think the blue light at night is pretty cool!  I was looking for a "pool" LED light bulb.  The bulb by itself is $150 USD.  Forget that.  I bought a 95 peso blue LED bulb like we had before.  It will last for a few years.  When they opened up the light housing it was dry and dusty so I'm not concerned.  The pool business is a real money maker.  Our highest estimate for grouting the pool, repair and painting the lip, new deck covering (KoolDeck) was $3500 USD.  We got Manny, Moe and Jack and they did it for less than $1000 USD.  Tile is tile and grout is grout.  The KoolDeck does take expertise and the guy who did it is very experienced but doesn't have the smarts to form his own business.  We got him from a worksite where our kitchen remodeler was working.  Our homeowner's policy covers accidents so it was all good.

Monday, July 20, 2020

The Best Laid Plans

COVID deaths continue to climb in Mexico.  By tomorrow, Monday morning, we should hit 40,000.  So sad this has had to happen, mostly started by our president who didn't believe it was real, Mexicans who said it was a government hoax, and indigenous groups saying they have a special DNA.  The worst is yet to come.  Rules are rules and as you know, most people in Mexico just can't seem to wrap their heads around this.  Most of the problem is education.  What is a virus?  Few could tell you.

Our Secretary of Health has now changed the charts so they no longer show an upward curve but instead a downward spiral 

I don't think even he can read this graph so how could the average person understand it?  That's what they want.

A woman is being sought in SMA.  Frustrated that people weren't wearing masks, she went to the Centro and started coughing on people.  It didn't take long that her picture appeared on Facebook and the locals are calling the gringos privileged and that the government won't do anything to her.  She hasn't had her day yet but both the gringos and locals are infuriated with her.

We've had temps as high as 106F this past week until Thursday night.  Since then we have had late afternoon storms rolling in and they are fierce.  High winds, rain in sheets, and lots of lightning.  The rain is welcome but it has put the new pool deck on hold.  It's still plenty warm, in the low 90s, and there is so much humidity the A/C comes on at happy hour.

I made a great homemade pizza Friday night.  We have been enjoying the new kitchen and trying new recipes.  I made homemade sauce, pizza dough and cooked it in my mother's 80-year-old cast-iron skillet on top of the stove.  To perfection.  Tonight, homemade chile and The Wizard of Oz!

Ready for another week it looks like I may be needing a dental remodel.  Crowns are wearing out and I am having an issue with a permanent bridge.  I went to the IMSS clinic on Friday but because of COVID the dentist only works in the morning.  She only does cleanings, fillings, and emergency work but I want to get her opinion.  This bridge has been with me for some time but it has gold underlay and should last for a while.  I know the problem is in the anchor tooth but I want to save the bridge if possible.  Not likely as most want to cut it out and make some money.  I can understand that.  I'm just concerned about dental work during the virus.  We lost a dentist last month here in town to COVID.  

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Pool Is Almost Ready - And I Only Have 12 More Payments

It was a real mess for over two weeks but it will be worth it.  First pass was opening the deck and replacing all the pipes.  That was tested and then closed up so that they can pour the new deck.  

Then the tile guys came, removed all the old grout between the tiles and then replaced it. That was a two-day project.  After that was cleaned they started working on the lip.  Now everything is cleaned up and we can begin filling the pool tomorrow.  The deck will have to wait until we find someone to do it the right way.

Today the thermometer hit 42C or 106F.  The grass is behaving well although it's getting thirsty.  That will just have to do as it's watering the grass or fill the pool.  I checked a couple of water companies and they charge way to much to fill it up.  

I finished my IMSS insurance policy the other day.  I took my copies, he stamped them, gave a payment slip with which I took to the bank.  Paid the 12,250 pesos and then back to the clinic for the final approval.  

While there, I asked about my IMSS pension.  I have only 12 payments left to increase my benefit.  I make a payment this week so it will be down to 11.  I was reluctant to do this, in the beginning, thinking this would take forever.  But like everything else, time flies and so did this.  Next year at this time I will be applying for my second pension.  Yahoo!  

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Mexico Healthcare Costs - Private - IMSS - Medicare

I've been investigating healthcare costs in Mexico and the U.S.  My purpose is to see if I should stay with IMSS, change to private healthcare insurance, or wait for Medicare.  I've put together some information and charts to do a very basic comparison.  Medicare is the most difficult to research.  It is more like looking for private healthcare in that you need a consultant to guide you through the process to get the best deal.  In other words, the U.S. government is not there for your benefit.

The issue I have seen with Medicare costs is that there are ranges that are not defined; measures income on your last tax return before retirement, and no cost estimates for Part A although it says it can cost up to $458 per month.  Part B is the goody basket that everyone wants to be sure to have, if not, the system will nickel and dime you to death.  I am open to comments about Medicare as it seems like a real mystery.  My younger brother is disabled and yet he pays $150 a month for part B.  Some benefit for disabled persons.  I would say that for a person age 65, the average monthly charge for part A and part B would be $300 USD.

The issue with Medicare is that you have to have paid Medicare taxes for 30 quarters before retirement to be able to purchase it while out of the country.  That said, it is of no use outside the U.S.  In an emergency you are on your own until you can get to a hospital in the U.S.  Big mistake because depending on the medical issue, you will probably not be able to take a commercial flight.  Big expenses there.

Private medical in Mexico works exactly the same as in the U.S.  Monthly or yearly payments, deductibles but with flex options.  Flex options allow you to choose the level of the hospital you would prefer.  That implies that you can choose levels A, B, or C which would be a private room, shared room, private room suite.  In addition, the age and location of the hospital.  There are many private hospitals and your level includes several options which cover your doctor's preference, or specialty such as cardiology.  In my case, my cardiologist is also the medical director of the hospital so I would receive very good care (bypass, etc) under his care at a very reasonable cost.  I do not know the maximums or limits to U.S. policies but as you can see in the charts below, they are between $1,000,000 USD to 3,000,000 USD.  In a U.S. hospital, you may eat that up very quickly with just one event.  OTOH, in Mexico that should last you easily for the last 20 to 25 years of your life.  Rates are very similar if not less than Medicare and you also have coverage outside of Mexico at a private hospital.  In an emergency in Mexico you are taken to the nearest private facility and once stable you may be moved.

CONDUSEF (National Commission for the Protection and Defense of Financial Services Users)
The first column is the insurer, second is the basic coverage limited (divide by 20 pesos)  The last column is your yearly cost.  The first insurer, BBVA, an international bank and insurer, in this example has a policy life of $2,000,000 USD with a cost at age 62 of less than $2000 USD per year, or $164 USD.  If you are an ex-pat, this is an excellent option because you don't need to worry about how to get to the U.S., if you are truly covered because many ex-pats do not tell Medicare they are living in Mexico.  You live in Mexico, be a Mexican.

Last is the table for IMSS.  At a cost of $60 per month at age 62, it covers everything but you are at the mercy of the system.  If you live in Ajijic, they have a new hospital with excellent equipment, as an example, and in Monterrey, they have 15 story hospitals filled with thousands of beds but they do have excellent ICU care, specialty hospitals for cardiology including heart and lung transplants, dialysis, premature birth care, that are excellent.  The issue is that the bureaucracy and it can take months to have simple surgeries such as knee implants, foot surgeries, hernia, etc.

This is all preliminary research and I will continue to provide more.  One important point to make.  If you are a Mexican resident you really need to become accustomed to living in Mexico.  The other day someone asked about a middle and high private school.  Someone recommended a school to which many agreed.  One person said that when you graduate they send you to a "real college" in the U.S. (I found the comment very insulting).  I sent them a private message to understand what they meant, although I already knew.  I told them that I had studied at the Tecnologico de Monterrey which is a renowned university in all of the Americas.  That attitude has to go if you want to live here.  Mexico makes and does many great things but if you live in a small town, you cannot base your information solely on that or hearsay.  We are a great country with engineers, architects, lawyers, doctors, and so on.  The educated Mexican community can easily compete with any other country including the U.S.  Get over it or move on.  If not, you will always have problems with living here.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Me avergüenza decirlo pero somos un país que en muchos casos sólo aspira a "estirar la mano" para que le llegue la "ayudita" y no planeamos nuestro futuro. Se dice que un indicador de madurez financiera es la forma en que la que la gente calcula y habla de sus ingresos por ejemplo en muchos lugares de México la gente cobra y adquiere deudas con pagos "por semana", otros hablan del "abono" por quincena, y los menos hablamos de mensualidades. Mientras que en países de primer mundo el ciudadano promedio habla de sus ingresos y gastos por año.

I am ashamed to say it but we are a country that in many cases only aspires to "reach out" so that the "little help" reaches it and we do not plan our future. An indicator of financial maturity is said to be the way in which people calculate and talk about their income. For example, in many places in Mexico, people collect and acquire debts with payments "per week", others talk about "payment" by fortnight, and the least we talk about monthly payments. While in first world countries the average citizen talks about their income and expenses per year.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Mexico's Free Healthcare - An Oxymoron

As an independent worker in Mexico for most of my life, I had to provide my own medical insurance.  If you are an employee in a company, your employer, by law, has to provide the IMSS healthcare.  That means that 50% of the Mexican population doesn't have healthcare.  Well, they didn't until Seguro Popular.  President Calderon was responsible for that change and many ex-pats pay for that service as it is cheaper.  

Presidente Dingus declared free healthcare for everyone starting his first day in office.  It was a lie.  No one can walk into any clinic and receive healthcare.  The new program, INSABE, has no cost but good luck getting treatment for free at IMSS.  Patients have tried it and they are charged high rates and no pay,  you can't leave the hospital.

IMSS is not the best but it is a low-cost option for foreign residents and it has treated my Mexican family fairly well.  A lot depends on the hospital you are assigned to and who the director of that hospital is.

Yesterday, I went to renew my policy.  It's a typical bureaucracy and requires several trips.  I walked in, and the first thing was to take my temperature, use hand sanitizer, and walk across a special mat filled with antibacterial goo.  I then went to my local delegation representative who asked for; passport, resident ID, social security number, and my contract.  This last year I have been on restriction for not paying on time.  You don't receive any notice, you're on your own.  I only have had access to clinics this last year (such as my experience in San Miguel de Allende in January in which I may have had Covid).  If I have an emergency they would probably treat me but for any elective or non-emergency surgery, I would be on the street.

My contribution this year has gone up.  Last year it was 10,000 pesos and this year 12,250.  I asked why and the smart ass government employee answered, "I don't make the rules".  So I need to return with copies of my birth certificate, CURP (my governmental registration), copy of my residency card, and something else.  They will give me a slip to pay at the HSCB bank and then I will return and get my renewal for this next year. 

Surgical intervention 24,196                                  1200 USD
Toco-surgery intervention 10,873                            540 USD
Transfer by ambulance 2,191                                   100 USD
Chemotherapy session 7,113                                     350 USD
Hemodialysis session 4,857                                        240USD

Hemodynamic study / procedure (Stent) 44,458    2220 USD

I have been checking the cost to the public should you as a foreigner (non-member) need healthcare.  Steer clear of IMSS.  The prices are higher than in a private top drawer hospital.  Better to shop around and know in advance if you spend any time in any specific area.

That makes me wonder about Medicare when I turn 65.  Medicare costs the same or less for private Mexican medical insurance and I can choose any hospital I want.  Many ex-pats pay good money for Medicare but what do you do in an emergency?  Medicare doesn't cover that.  I don't live in the states so if I need heart surgery, why not just have it here.  It would be too costly and too inconvenient to be in another country when I can be at home for recovery.