Retirement; like your parents, but way cooler
In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age
of 38. Now, into their 4th decade of this
financially independent lifestyle, they invite you
to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.
Perspective on Health Care Overseas
Q and A with Jim McLeod and
Retire Early Lifestyle
Billy and I are Americans.
For most of our adult lives we have been self-employed, paying for our own
health insurance out-of-pocket.
We retired at age 38, and
while initially we paid for a US-based Health Insurance policy, we eventually
naked" of any health insurance coverage. Wandering the globe, we took
Medical Tourism in foreign countries and again,
out-of-pocket for services.
This approach served us
However, we understand that
the manner in which one wants to pay-for-and-receive-health-services is a
In our experience, it
seemed that Canadians generally were reticent to stay away from Canada longer
than 6 months because they would lose their access to their home country's
health care system.
We did not know the full story
of why many Canadians preferred not to become permanent residents of another
country due to this healthcare issue. So, we asked Canadian Jim McLeod if he would answer a
few questions for us to clarify! And then, to give that information to you.
Below is our interview with
Jim McLeod. He and his wife are permanent residents of Mexico, and now receive
all their healthcare from this country.
It is our hope with this
interview, that there would be options explained to other Canadians who might
not want to maintain 2 homes, be snowbirds in Mexico, or could vision living in
Mexico with its better weather and pricing.
Take a look!
Jim and Kathy in Mexico
Retire Early Lifestyle: In the beginning, did you choose to do a part-time stint
in Mexico before fully jumping in? You know, like to test the waters?
Jim McLeod: Yes. Because of the
following stipulations for our Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) and the
possibility of getting a maximum of 180 days on a Mexican Tourist Card, we
decided to do the "snowbird" thing initially: 6 months in Ontario during the
warmer months, and 6 months in Mexico during the colder months.
"You cannot be out of Ontario for more than
212 days (a little over 6 months) in *any* 12 month period (ex. Jan - Dec, Feb -
Jan, Mar - Feb, etc.)"
During this time, we used World Nomads for
trip insurance to cover us while in Mexico. For us, this wasn't too bad.
However, according to other couples we've spoken with, after a certain age,
depending on your health, this can become quite expensive.
Retire Early Lifestyle:
When you retired early and left your home country of
Canada, was leaving the guaranteed health care system that your country provides
a large hurdle to your plans? How did you factor that cost in?
Jim McLeod: After doing the
"snowbird" thing twice, we had enough data from
tracking all our spending, as
per Billy and Akaisha's
Guide to Early Retirement, that we knew
we would save approximately $10,000cdn a year by moving full time to Mexico. And
we knew we would lose our OHIP coverage. As such, we budget $2000cdn a year for
out-of-pocket medical expenses. But we also knew that, at that time, we
qualified for the Mexican Seguro Popular insurance coverage. Note: Seguro
Popular has since been replaced with a new health Care system, el Instituto
Nacional de Salud para el Bienestar (INSABI), which has the following
Be a person located inside Mexico
Not be part of the social security system (IMSS
Present one of the following: Mexican Voter
ID card, CURP or birth certificate
As an expat, in order to obtain a CURP,
you must be a Temporal or Permanente resident of Mexico.
Retire Early Lifestyle: Initially, did you go home to Canada to get certain
health care items taken care of and then go back to Mexico to live?
Jim McLeod: No, we have not gone
back to Ontario for any health care. Having said that, there is one medication
that Kathy needs, that she is allergic to here in Mexico, so she gets a
prescription filled in Ontario whenever we return and we pay for it out-of-pocket.
Retire Early Lifestyle: What sort of medical treatments have you received here
Jim with an eye patch
Over the five years that we have been here
full time, Jim has had two eye surgeries, that we have paid for out-of-pocket.
He has also had a prostate surgery (TURP) which was covered by Seguro Popular,
and was quite similar to his experience having the same surgery 6 years prior in
Ontario. And Kathy has had two surgeries, one for a tumor and the other for a
bone spur and cyst causing a tear in one of her tendons in her shoulder rotator
cuff. Due to the severity of both issues, we paid out of pocket for these as
well. Considering the fact that we are saving $10,000 a year, and budgeting
$2000 a year for out of pocket medical expenses, we are still way ahead by being
Retire Early Lifestyle: In your experience of receiving Mexico’s health care,
would you say that it’s adequate? That you received good care? That the pricing
Jim McLeod: The health care we have received here is as
good as, or better than we received in Ontario.
The ones that we paid for out-of-pocket all took place within one week of the diagnosis, and the one through Seguro Popular took 6 weeks (compared to 8 weeks for the one in Ontario, so very
similar). Since we didn't have to "pay" for health care in Ontario, we're not
sure if the prices were "reasonable". But considering how quickly we got in for
the out-of-pocket surgeries, and the quality of care we received before, during
and after (in all cases we were given the surgeon's personal cell phone number
and told to call any time if there were any questions or concerns, and in two of
the cases, it was over the Christmas holidays!) we feel the prices we paid were
And of course, in the case of Seguro Popular, (now INSABI) it
was basically the same as OHIP. (We did have to pay out-of-pocket for pre-surgery blood work, chest x-ray and EKG, some of the supplies for the surgery,
and post surgery medications, costing around $220cdn, which we felt was quite
Bloodwork work up for Cataract Surgery
Retire Early Lifestyle: Did the native language being Spanish present problems
for you? How did you handle that challenge?
Jim McLeod: So far,
all of the
doctors we have dealt with have spoken English. Fortunately, we have learned
enough Spanish to get by when dealing with other medical and support personal.
And in many cases where we had problems understanding the protocols when going
through the system, someone almost always stepped in to help us through it!
However, there are translators available for a fee to help anyone who wants it.
Retire Early Lifestyle: Have you spoken to other Canadians about “going local”
in terms of medical care and leaving Canada to live overseas? If so, what were
their reactions? Are you fairly alone in this line of thinking?
Jim McLeod: Most of the Canadians we
know who are retired are older and prefer the "safe" route of doing the
"snowbird" thing, and keeping their health insurance coverage. They don't want
to leave their comfort zone. So, yes, we are pretty much alone in this line of
thinking. But, we are the only ones we know who have retired early.
Retire Early Lifestyle: What might be the advantages of “going local” with
health care versus staying with the Canadian system?
Kathy in the hospital
Jim McLeod: The main advantage is
the decreased wait time.
For one of my eye surgeries, it took almost 6 months to
get in to "see" the eye specialist. And then it was going to take 6 months to
get in for surgery to have the cateract removed, and then another 6 months to
get in for the surgery for the actual issue with my eye. In Mexico, I was in to
see the eye specialist within 2 days of arriving back in Mexico, and then was
in for both surgeries ("why would you do two separate surgeries when you can do
both at the same time???") within a week.
However, this came at a cost of
$2700cdn. But, at the same time, this was a progressive issue, which could have
been worse if I had to wait an extra year for the surgery.
For Canadians considering retiring early,
you are probably in fairly good health, in which case becoming residents of
Mexico and using a combination of the INSABI health care and self-insurance is a
very reasonable alternative to your Provincial health care.
To be sure, grab a
copy of The
Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement, do the "snowbird" thing a
couple of times to track your spending, and see for yourself what the difference
You might be surprised.
We'd like to thank Jim and
Kathy McLeod for sharing their lives and their medical story for our Readers. It
is a generosity of heart for them to do this, and we appreciate it!
Thanks Jim and Kathy!
About the Authors
Early Lifestyle appeals to a different
kind of person – the person who prizes their
independence, values their time, and who doesn’t
want to mindlessly follow the crowd.
Retire Early Lifestyle Blog
About Billy & Akaisha