Posts Tagged retiring to mexico

Mexico’s big hope: get 5 million U.S. retirees

BY ANDRES OPPENHEIMER
aoppenheimer@MiamiHerald.com

Mexico's big hope: get 5 million U.S. retirees

Mexico's big hope: get 5 million U.S. retirees

MEXICO CITY — Mexico is silently working on proposals aimed at drawing millions of U.S. retirees to this country, which could eventually lead to the most ambitious U.S.-Mexican project since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.

President Felipe Calderón is likely to propose the first steps toward expanding U.S. retirement benefits and medical tourism to Mexico when he goes to Washington on an official visit May 19, according to well-placed officials here. If not then, he will raise the issue later this year, they say.

“It’s one of the pillars of our plans to trigger economic and social well-being in both countries,” Mexico’s ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan told me. “We will be seeking to increasingly discuss this issue in coming months and years.”

Calderón brought it up during a U.S.-Canada-Mexico summit in Guadalajara in August last year, but President Barack Obama asked him to shelve the idea until he was able to pass healthcare reform, another official told me.

Now that Congress has passed healthcare reform, Calderón is preparing to charge ahead.

A GROWING MARKET
There are already an estimated 1 million Americans living in Mexico. And according to Mexican government estimates based on U.S. Census figures, that number is likely to soar to 5 million by 2025 as the U.S. population grows older and more Americans look for sunny, cheaper places to retire.

The U.S. Census projects that the number of U.S. retirees will soar from 40 million now to nearly 90 million by 2050. Already, 5 million American retirees live abroad, of whom 2.2 million are in the Western Hemisphere — mostly in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Brazil. Another 1.5 million live in Europe and 850,000 in Asia.

The key to luring more U.S. medical tourists and retirees to Mexico and other Latin American countries will be getting hospitals in the region to be certified by the U.S. Joint International Commission, which establishes that they meet U.S. hospitals’ standards. There are already eight Mexican hospitals certified by the JIC and several others awaiting certification.

According to Mexican government estimates, healthcare costs in Mexico are about 70 percent lower than in the United States. And from my own experience, those estimates are right: As I reported at the time, when I was hospitalized in Mexico two years ago for an emergency operation, my hospital bill was indeed about 70 percent lower than what it would have been in Miami.

So what will Calderón specifically propose to Obama? Most likely, the Mexican president will suggest starting with a low-profile agreement that would allow the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration to pay for Medicare benefits to U.S. retirees in Mexico. Under current rules, Medicare only covers healthcare services in the United States.

IT JUST MAKES SENSE
My opinion: Mexico and much of Latin America are bound to become growing U.S. retirement and medical tourism destinations, much like Spain has become a permanent living place for Germans, Britons and Northern Europeans.

You won’t read much about it now because neither Calderón nor Obama will emphasize it publicly while the drug-related violence in northern Mexico is making big headlines, and while the political wounds from the recent U.S. healthcare debate are still open in Washington, D.C.

But I’m increasingly convinced that, as the violence in Mexico subsides and the healthcare debate becomes a distant memory in Washington, medical benefits’ deals will become a top U.S.-Latin American priority. Just as free-trade agreements were the big thing of the 1990s, healthcare agreements will be the big deal of the coming decade.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Calderón and Obama take the first baby steps toward a U.S.-Mexico healthcare agreement by finding a way to pay for Medicare benefits for U.S. expatriates in Mexico, or getting U.S. states to allow similar payments. Then, most likely after the 2012 presidential election in both countries, the two would start negotiating a more ambitious deal.

Demography, geography and economics are pointing in that direction. With the U.S. population getting older, a record U.S. budget deficit, rising U.S. healthcare costs, and Mexico and other Latin American countries badly needing more tourism and investments, this should be a win-win for everybody.

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Retire to Mexico — the price is right

By Les Christie, staff writerApril 28, 2010: 10:48 AM ET

Retire to Mexico -- the price is right

Retire to Mexico -- the price is right

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The years-long trend of Americans buying homes and expatriating to Mexico has collapsed, done in by a trifecta of the recession, swine flu and an epic crime wave.

Sales volume plunged nearly 70% last year for Coldwell Banker, according Phillip Hendrix, director of the firm’s Mexican operations. And at Costa Baja, a residential resort development a few miles north of La Paz, sales have slowed by about 40% in the past 12 months.

“Sales are off like crazy. The recession is really hurting and the headlines have been driving people away. The narco-wars especially have bit into the housing market in Mexico,” said Tom Kelly, a follower of Mexican real estate trends and author of Cashing In on a Second Home in Mexico.

But that’s good news for Americans who have always dreamed of retiring to Mexico but could never afford it: The bust has made homebuying a bargain. Prices can be less than half of what an equivalent home would run in the U.S.

Although the crime wave is confined to a fairly limited area, the perception of it has hurt markets all over the nation, said Alejandro Yberri, CEO of Costa Baja.

Information on prices of homes being sold to expatriate Americans is sketchy, but Kelly estimates overall declines of between 20% and 30% since the peak. In the high-crime communities close to the U.S. border, the drop has been even steeper, perhaps 40% or more. Read the rest of this entry »

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Health-care challenged Californians flocking to Mexico

The pharmacy business in Tijuana is still booming, despite crackdowns by the state to weed out illegitimate operators. - John Gibbins / Union-Tribune

The pharmacy business in Tijuana is still booming, despite crackdowns by the state to weed out illegitimate operators. - John Gibbins / Union-Tribune

By Keith Darcé, Union-Tribune Staff Writer

TIJUANA — About 1 million adult Californians seek health care in Mexico each year – and that figure is likely growing as the recession expands the ranks of the uninsured who are drawn to cheaper care south of the border, said the lead researcher of the first major report on the topic released Tuesday.

These people live from the Bay Area to San Diego County. Most come to Mexico for prescription drugs and dental care, and a smaller number go for surgeries. Beyond finances, other factors prompting individuals to head south include language and cultural barriers.

Living within 15 miles of the border also greatly increases the likelihood of someone obtaining health services in Mexico.

Angela Tapia, 45, of San Ysidro crosses the border several times each year to see her gynecologist. She also had back surgery in Tijuana a decade ago.

“It’s cheaper to go there,” said Tapia, who doesn’t have health insurance. “When you go to those doctors, they give you time, they ask a lot of questions and they care about you.”

Roughly half of the cross-border patients are Mexican immigrants, a statistic that might challenge the popular notion of Mexicans burdening California’s hospitals and clinics by receiving all of their health care on this side of the border, said UCLA public health professor Steven Wallace, lead author of the new report.

“What this helps document is that (some) immigrants are facing barriers to receiving care in the United States, and they are turning to Mexico for that care,” said Wallace, who also serves as associate director of UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research. “And it’s not just immigrants facing barriers here.”

Approximately half a million U.S. citizens living in California also seek health services in Mexico, Wallace and his UCLA colleagues found.

Altogether, about 4 percent of adult Californians traveled to Mexico for some type of medical care.

Wallace’s study was published Tuesday in Medical Care, a journal for the American Public Health Association.

He and his fellow researchers based their analysis on data from the 2001 California Health Interview Survey, which questioned more than 55,000 random households across the state.

The wide-ranging survey, conducted once every two years, is funded by a coalition of agencies and groups including the state Department of Public Health, the National Cancer Institute and the California Endowment. Those done since 2001 have not asked about accessing health care south of the border.

Wallace’s group was the first to delve deeply into the statistics on medical treatment in Mexico. Previous research relied on anecdotal accounts or small localized populations.

The cross-border trend likely will intensify as the number of Mexican immigrants living in California increases and the recession costs more people their jobs and health insurance coverage, Wallace said.

Between 2001 and 2007, the population of Mexican immigrants in California grew by 756,000 to 4.6 million, according to the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C.

“The numbers that are bad in this study have only gotten worse,” said Margaret Laws, director of the California HealthCare Foundation’s Innovations for the Underserved program. “Under the current climate, they will continue to get worse.”

The UCLA researchers found that more than 13 percent of Mexican immigrants traveled to Mexico for care, with the largest number visiting dentists.

Such patients make up the diverse range of U.S. residents who visit the Bartell Dental Clinic on Avenida Revolucion in the heart of Tijuana’s tourist district, said Dr. William Bartell Jr.

“Probably 95 percent of my clientele are self-employed or their jobs don’t provide any dental insurance,” he said.

The clinic, which has a Web site that targets Americans, sees about 10 patients a day – nearly all from north of the border. That’s enough to keep three full-time and several part-time dentists busy, Bartell said.

Mexican immigrants who lived in California for less than 15 years were less likely to cross the border for care than those who had been in the country longer, the UCLA report said. Many shorter-term immigrants are undocumented, so they face risks every time they leave the United States and try to return.

Among all other Californians, the top health-related reason for going to Mexico was to purchase prescription drugs.

Much attention has been given to doctors performing cosmetic and weight-loss surgeries on Americans in Mexican cities such as Tijuana. But Wallace found that only 7 percent of the 464,000 non-Latino Californians who sought treatment across the border went there for medical procedures, including surgeries and treatments for serious illnesses like cancer.

Health insurers offering relatively low-cost coverage plans that allow Southern Californians to receive care on both sides of the border should be encouraged by the study’s findings, Wallace said.

In fact, several of the largest players in the cross-border insurance market have recorded steady growth in recent years.

Membership in Health Net’s U.S-Mexico plan has reached 40,000, up from 23,700 in late 2007, said Brad Kiefer, a spokesman for the health maintenance organization.

Sistemas Medicos Nacionales S.A., the only Mexican HMO licensed to operate in California, now has about 21,000 members in San Diego and Imperial counties, said Christina Suggett, the company’s chief operating officer.

Staff writer Sandra Dibble contributed to this report.

Keith Darcé: (619) 293-1020;

Browse for Rosarito Real Estate, Ensenada Real Estate, Baja Real Estate and Mexico Real Estate.

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One Journalist’s View By Linda Ellerbee

Linda Ellerbee

Linda Ellerbee

Sometimes I’ve been called a maverick because I don’t always agree with my colleagues, but then, only dead fish swim with the stream all the time. The stream here is Mexico.

You would have to be living on another planet to avoid hearing how dangerous Mexico has become, and, yes, it’s true drug wars have escalated violence in Mexico , causing collateral damage, a phrase I hate. Collateral damage is a cheap way of saying that innocent people, some of them tourists, have been robbed, hurt or killed.

But that’s not the whole story. Neither is this. This is my story.

I’m a journalist who lives in New York City , but has spent considerable time in Mexico , specifically Puerto Vallarta , for the last four years. I’m in Vallarta now. And despite what I’m getting from the U.S. media, the 24-hour news networks in particular, I feel as safe here as I do at home in New York , possibly safer. I walk the streets of my Vallarta neighborhood alone day or night. And I don’t live in a gated community, or any other All-Gringo neighborhood. I live in Mexico . Among Mexicans. I go where I want (which does not happen to include bars where prostitution and drugs are the basic products), and take no more precautions than I would at home in New York; which is to say I don’t wave money around, I don’t act the Ugly American, I do keep my eyes open, I’m aware of my surroundings, and I try not to behave like a fool.

I’ve not always been successful at that last one. One evening a friend left the house I was renting in Vallarta at that time, and, unbeknownst to me, did not slam the automatically-locking door on her way out. Sure enough, less than an hour later a stranger did come into my house. A burglar? Robber? Kidnapper? Killer? Drug lord?

No, it was a local police officer, the “beat cop” for our neighborhood, who, on seeing my unlatched door, entered to make sure everything (including me) was okay. He insisted on walking with me around the house, opening closets, looking behind doors and, yes, even under beds, to be certain no one else had wandered in, and that nothing was missing. He was polite, smart and kind, but before he left, he lectured me on having not checked to see that my friend had locked the door behind her. In other words, he told me to use my common sense.

Do bad things happen here? Of course they do. Bad things happen everywhere, but the murder rate here is much lower than, say, New Orleans, and if there are bars on many of the ground floor windows of houses here, well, the same is true where I live, in Greenwich Village, which is considered a swell neighborhood — house prices start at about $4 million (including the bars on the ground floor windows).

There are good reasons thousands of people from the United States are moving to Mexico every month, and it’s not just the lower cost of living, a hefty tax break and less snow to shovel. Mexico is a beautiful country, a special place. The climate varies, but is plentifully mild, the culture is ancient and revered, the young are loved unconditionally, the old are respected, and I have yet to hear anyone mention Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, or Madonna’s attempt to adopt a second African child, even though, with such a late start, she cannot possibly begin to keep up with Anglelina Jolie.

And then there are the people. Generalization is risky, but— in general — Mexicans are warm, friendly, generous and welcoming. If you smile at them, they smile back. If you greet a passing stranger on the street, they greet you back. If you try to speak even a little Spanish, they tend to treat you as though you were fluent. Or at least not an idiot. I have had taxi drivers track me down after leaving my wallet or cell phone in their cab. I have had someone run out of a store to catch me because I have overpaid by twenty cents. I have been introduced to and come to love a people who celebrate a day dedicated to the dead as a recognition of the cycles of birth and death and birth — and the 15th birthday of a girl, an important rite in becoming a woman — with the same joy.

Too much of the noise you’re hearing about how dangerous it is to come to Mexico is just that — noise. But the media love noise, and too many journalists currently making it don’t live here. Some have never even been here. They just like to be photographed at night, standing near a spotlighted border crossing, pointing across the line to some imaginary country from hell. It looks good on TV.

Another thing. The U.S. media tend to lump all of Mexico into one big bad bowl. Talking about drug violence in Mexico without naming a state or city where this is taking place is rather like looking at the horror of Katrina and saying, “Damn. Did you know the U.S. is under water?” or reporting on the shootings at Columbine or the bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City by saying that kids all over the U.S. are shooting their classmates and all the grownups are blowing up buildings. The recent rise in violence in Mexico has mostly occurred in a few states, and especially along the border. It is real, but it does not describe an entire country.

It would be nice if we could put what’s going on in Mexico in perspective, geographically and emotionally. It would be nice if we could remember that, as has been noted more than once, these drug wars wouldn’t be going on if people in the United States didn’t want the drugs, or if other people in the United States weren’t selling Mexican drug lords the guns. Most of all, it would be nice if more people in the United States actually came to this part of America ( Mexico is also America , you will recall) to see for themselves what a fine place Mexico really is, and how good a vacation (or a life) here can be.

So come on down and get to know your southern neighbors. I think you’ll like it here. Especially the people. ***
http://wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Ellerbee


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How Americans are Stretching Their Money South of the Border in Baja California Mexico

Americans struggling with the economy are finding relief south of the border. The overall lower cost of living, affordable beach front housing, lower property taxes as well as proximity and accessibility to US services, have made Baja California a preferred choice for relocation among retirees and families alike.

How Americans are Stretching Their Money South of the Border in Baja California, MexicoROSARITO, BAJA CALIFORNIA. MEXICO – Many Americans with reduced and fixed incomes are looking outside of the US for retirement and economic relief in these tough times, finding it just south of the border. Baja California, Mexico is leading the trend to cater to retirees, by offering services that appeal to the growing number of foreign residents. These services include assisted living, property and personal care among others at significantly lower prices than in the US.

US store names like Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Smart and Final, Applebee’s and Ashley Furniture are some of which are becoming more common in strip malls around the area. State of the art medical facilities equal to those on the US have been and are being constructed in order to provide quality medical care services to the growing number of foreign residents, the only difference being the lower cost. Read the rest of this entry »

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