Heart to Heart on Medical Care in the Southern Cone
We hear from so many of you who are concerned about what quality of medical care would be available if you were to join us here in South America. This editor has decided to include a heart-to-heart discussion about our newest experience with medical care here.
As you all know, it is our policy here at Four Flags Journal, in case of medical problems, to straighten up our lifestyle and get our immune system genuinely healthy instead of covering symptoms with chemical prescriptions while the condition only gets worse and the prescription causes side effects which eventually require more prescriptions to control the side effects in a gradual downward spiral. We avoid allopathic medicine except in the case of an accident or broken bone, in which case you certainly need a doctor.
But we are also known to consult an M.D. for diagnosis. Sometimes it is good to know exactly what you are dealing with. In all cases we caution never go off a prescription except under the watchful eye of your health care provider. To do otherwise can be dangerous. Our policy is to correct the lifestyle and reduce the medication as it is no longer required.
Two weeks ago this editor suddenly experienced near blindness in one eye. Since I do see an ophthalmologist for regular eye exams and do wear reading glasses, I didn’t think I had any eye condition that would warrant these symptoms. I made an appointment to see a docter who was recommended by a trusted Argentina friend. The clinic is Kaufer Clinica de Ojos and you can see it HERE. We are not advertising this clinic. There are many good doctors here. In fact, we have another regular ophthalmologist that we like very much. This was only a precautionary visit to confirm the regular doctor’s analysis of the health of my eyes, aside from this new development The exam in the Kaufer Clinic did confirm that the assessment of our regular specialist was accurate.
While our intention is not to advertise the Kaufer clinic above other excellent doctors, we hope that perusing their web site and seeing what this one clinic offers will help to give you confidence in our part of South America from a medical standpoint. This particular clinic is located in Martinez, a subdivision of Buenos Aires.
Were we impressed? Completely. I had never even seen some of the equipment this doctor has in his clinic. I think they must have run every possible test on my eyes. Then he told me that he thought it w as a tiny break in a blood vessel, causing a small thrombosis (clot). They even took me to a scanner, scanned the eye and showed me the picture on a screen and explained it.
However, he said then that he still would like for me to return the next business day–Monday–and see his retina specialist. I did. On Monday I went through another battery of tests. The retina specialist gave me the same diagnosis. He said he thought nature would take its course and I would be seeing very well again in about three weeks. And indeed my vision has already begun to improve.
The total cost? The equivalent of $60.00 US for each visit. They want me back in three weeks but there will be no charge for the follow up.
There is one more fact about Argentina that might interest you. If you so choose, you can have medical care free of charge. You don’t even have to be a resident here. My choice in Argentina is always to pay my way. It is just what I choose to do. But for those who do not, from all reports we get, the free medical care is very good. If you have not read our previous articles about Argentina, you probably should because there are things about Argentina, just as in every other country, that are far from ideal and we want to give you a balanced picture. As for medical care, this is what you will find here.
Our experience in Chile a few years ago was equally good. We have little experience with medical services in Uruguay but from what we hear, excellent care is available there. You can also get free care in Uruguay but one doctor at the free clinic in Uruguay recommended private care. He told us that was better because sometimes there is not enough money to even buy gloves at the free clinic.
We receive many questions on this subject as people consider the prospect of leaving their own trusted medical providers. We acknowledge that medical care in the U. S. is good. In fact, it seems to us that most of the doctors here were trained in the United States. However, we remind you that in every rating of the health of the advanced nations–every single one we have seen–the U.S. is last.
We have known expats who developed a problem and took the next available fight north. For our part we would stay right here.
Copyright © 2014 Four Flags Journal, All rights reserved.
Another story of healthcare in Uruguay. A friend was visiting Colonia and tripped on the very uneven cobblestones and broke her hip. She was taken to hospital – first in Colonia and then transferred to MVD last Monday. She is still waiting for surgery 6 days later and was told yesterday it is scheduled for next Wednesday .
As she needs an attendant 24/7 according to hospital policy here, her husband hired someone for the time he cannot be there. It is costing him $15.00 US per hour and due to the lengthy wait for surgery, it has cost over $900.00 US so far and she hasn’t even had the surgery.
She is sharing a room with another woman but there are no curtains between the beds so if she needs to use a bedpan or wash, they simply send any visitors out and she has to be cared for in full view of the other person and their attendant as she is unable to get out of bed.
Although most of the nursing staff have been nice, she has found some very rough proving care considering she has an unstable hip fracture and is in a fair amount of pain.
I will keep you posted if things improve!
Janet thanks for this information. We are interested in your follow up. As posted elsewhere, and sent with one newsletter, we are away from publishing for a few months. Plan to return in March so did not see this sooner. Thanks again.
I recently had to have a procedure that I have had four or five times in Canada and although here ( Uruguay ) I have to pay for medical coverage through Asociacion Espanola, I cannot say the service was as good here.
The wait for the exam was several months, the follow up visit to the doctor was another several months and I did not have the procedure done by the same doctor who i consulted as I did in Canada and the facility was not as good,
Following the procedure I had to stand around in some pain waiting for my report. They did not even have enough chairs for all the patients. Even though we had fasted for many hours they did not offer even water after.
My husband visited the washroom and said it was very unsanitary for a hospital.
As my wife Naly has two brothers and their families in Argentina, they have various stories regarding Argie health care. One I thought I’d share with you is regarding a brother who lives in BA and is a furniture maker by trade. About a year ago he had one of those tragic but classic wood worker accidents and sheared off the thumb and all 4 fingers of one hand on a large table band saw. He relied fully on the free medical care at that point and now, so after rushing him to one of the big emergency hospitals they did reattach all his digits but couldn’t save the thumb if I recall correctly. He’s had a couple of follow up surgeries and therapy sessions and I guess his outcome is about as good as could be hoped for in a case as his, regardless of where your at in the world. In conversations with his family though I got the following impression regarding the relationship between “free” and “private for pay” medical care there in Argie land. Basically they told me that the docs who work at the big hospitals/clinics or are in private practice but have “rights or access” at them must donate a specific amount of time per week to seeing patients assigned them by the clinic or hospital for free. So in this way, at least in theory, you would get the same level of care and professionalism via the free health care as in private care. But of course you’d have to wait more for non “real emergency” care. So don’t know for sure if that’s the way it works there but that would make sense….. Good luck with the recovery.. Regards, Brad
Thank you Brad for this great contribution. We are including it in the newsletter as well for broader readership. We consider it extremely helpful for those considering relocating down here with us in the Deep South.
While living in Uruguay several years ago, I had a heart attack and had to have a stent put in. I had no insurance but the hospitals I went to and the doctors I had took cash. I can’t say enough good about the care I received. The hospitals were so clean you could eat off the floors. The attention I received was wonderful. All the staff was very caring. I don’t speak much Spanish, but there was always someone available that spoke English. Following my stent surgery, which they put in through my wrists, I didn’t even have a bruise. I was so impressed with my total care, and with the cost. For the doctors, operating room, two hospitals, (they share equipment), and 5 days/4 nights,and follow-up, my cost totaled was $24,000. Try and get that kind of care in the states for that amount of money – that would just be the co-pay here. I was particularly impressed with the time spent with me explaining the results of my surgery and tests and the fact that they say they never have MERSA there. They sent me back to the states to be with my family, and when they sent me home, they gave me all my records which they had translated into English and put on a CD. I must say I cried when I left my doctor’s office for the last time, and I can’t thank and praise them enough for all the excellent care I received.
Sheri, We do so appreciate your adding your story to this article. We think it will be helpful to a lot of people. We are including this story as well as Brad’s for wider readership. Thank you so much.