Opting out of Obamacare

It’s nine at night as I sit on my balcony overlooking the Bay of Banderas with a view to downtown Puerto Vallarta. I’ve been here a month and I’ll come home after New Year’s.I still get news from the United States through Fox and CNN and things sure don’t look good on the medical front. I always thought the government could jump in and help the uninsured due to hardship conditions and those barred from insurance due to pre-existing conditions by getting subsidized rather than overhauling the whole system.

Congress could have also thrown in cross border insurance and tort reform/limits on litigation like we have here in California. But as long as Obamacare is the law I thought I’d check out the healthcare.gov exchanges to see what is going on and I actually got through. I’m a little nervous though now that I’ve found out the system isn’t secure with my personal information. Ouch.

After reviewing my choices, I’ve decided to skip insurance once again. I’ll pay whatever fine I need to pay. I’ve already experienced free enterprise medical down here in Puerto Vallarta. A year ago I was able to have high quality double stem-cell knee surgery at the Amerimed Center for $4,000 total. That included the surgeon, the operating room with a second doctor assisting and two nurses, the anesthesiologist, a day in my hospital room and follow up visits with my surgeon.

Besides having no cartilage on either of my tibias I also had torn meniscus cartilage in both knees as well. It has taken nearly a year rebuilding the strength from those meniscus repairs but my cartilage has completely grown back on the tibias.

Since the femurs were scraped clean of pits and spikes so to speak, I no longer have the bone-on-bone pain any more. I don’t have any metal and I don’t have scars, just repaired knees. It’s been almost a year and I’m back to walking 18 holes of golf and playing tennis.

All of the Amerimed Centers have been built to exceed U.S. standards. They can be found in all the locations Europeans, Canadians and Americans have bought second homes in Mexico. I’ve since learned that these centers have been accepted by Medicare and MediCal. In other words, had I been eligible, a good portion of that $4,000 would have been reimbursed to me.

Our country is now facing a new frontier in medical care and we Baby Boomers are going to be radically affected by the changes in insurance and the medical system. Many Baby Boomers are now or will be receiving cancellation notices of their health care plans from their insurers. They will have to forego their lifelong doctors and be taken care of by the few doctors willing to work in the exchanges.

The doctors I know and have seen for decades are not going to be a part of the exchanges so I know that if I join the exchange I will not be able to see my doctors. I can visit them if they stay in business, but I’ll have to pay out of pocket.

I canceled my insurance two years ago. In the California Exchange my premiums will be around $10,000 a year with a $7,500 deductible. That is about $17,500 before insurance kicks in. Even with my surgery, the money I have saved these last 24 months by abstaining from insurance premiums has given me the money to open a donut shop down here on the Malecon, equipment and all.

I’m lucky and I’m glad I didn’t give it to Blue Cross. I took a risk and so far it has paid off. If the business goes belly up I would rather the money was spent trying to help myself as well as others I employ instead of giving it to the government or the insurance companies.

Baby Boomers who don’t have Cadillac retirement plans are in a real fix and it is now up to those of us individually to try to figure out the best way to protect ourselves from something catastrophic while at the same time not robbing what little retirement we may have set aside.

If it was available I would prefer to have a policy that has a small monthly payment with no perks, no co-pays and a huge deductible, like $20,000, in return for just being covered in case of some life-threatening illness.

Other services I choose to have, like the knee surgery or dental care, I can have done down here in Puerto Vallarta at a fraction of the cost of Encinitas. Amerimed has highly skilled physicians from around the world including Mexican specialists and there’s never a wait to see one.

One by-product that might come from Obamacare, as it affects those of us not yet eligible for Medicare, will be the privatization of the medical industry. That might give us a chance to shop around for cash-pay prices and quality right here in San Diego as it is in Mexico. Don’t get me wrong, Mexican Nationals get free healthcare from their social security medical system as well but it’s awful and the wait for specialists is interminable; like Canada, up to two years.

As I hear the distant sounds of downtown, I muse at what has brought me peace. I’m 64 but feel 20. With out-of-the-box thinking I’ll hope that I can stay this way. I’ve figured out my peace and my own Cadillac plan. With a little effort you too may find yours. Good luck!

 

 

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  1. Gloria says:

    I have the same knee issues you were just treated for; I have been waiting for stem cell protocols to be available here, but if they are doing them with good results – and less expensively – in Puerto Vallarta, I would appreciate it if you could apprise me of how you were able to get through the maisma to get yourself healed. I’m bone on bone with a level three meniscus tear – and a lot of pain. I don’t want to go through 2014 hobbling along – thanks for posting this article. GDW

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