USA Today has an interesting but sad article about how some families choose to move their loved ones into Mexican nursing homes because of the poor care from the for profit chains in America.
For $1,300 a month — a quarter of what an average nursing home costs in Oregon — residents get a studio apartment, three meals a day, laundry and cleaning service, and 24-hour care from an attentive staff, many of whom speak English.
As millions of baby boomers reach retirement age and U.S. nursing home costs soar, Mexican nursing home managers expect more American seniors to head south in coming years. Mexico’s proximity to the USA, low labor costs and warm climate make it attractive.
An estimated 40,000 to 80,000 American retirees already live in Mexico, many of them in enclaves like San Miguel de Allende or the Chapala area, says David Warner, a University of Texas public affairs professor who has studied the phenomenon. There are no reliable data on how many are living in nursing homes, but at least five such facilities are on Lake Chapala alone.
“You can barely afford to live in the United States anymore,” said Harry Kislevitz, 78, of New York City. A stroke victim, he moved to a convalescent home on the lake’s shore two years ago and credits the staff with helping him recover his speech and ability to walk.
Many expatriates are Americans or Europeans who retired here years ago and are now becoming more frail. Others are not quite ready for a nursing home but are exploring options such as in-home health care services, which can provide Mexican nurses at a fraction of U.S. prices.
Some residents pay $550 a month, less than one-tenth of the going rate in Las Vegas. For another $140 a year, he gets full medical coverage from the Mexican government, including all his medicine and insulin for diabetes.
For medical care, Slater relies on the Mexican Social Security Institute, or IMSS, which runs clinics and hospitals nationwide and allows foreigners to enroll in its program even if they never worked in Mexico or paid taxes to support the system. He recently had gallbladder surgery in an IMSS hospital in Guadalajara, and he paid nothing.
Some managers said they were especially selective when admitting foreign residents, to make sure they’ll be able to pay. Medicare, Medicaid, the Department of Veterans Affairs and most U.S. insurance companies will not cover care or medicine as long as patients are outside the United States.