Health Care

When I used to tell people that I was thinking of retiring to Guatemala they’d inevitably ask: “What if you get sick down there?”

My standard answer was, “you either get better or you die.”‘

That’s really not a smart-assed answer, either. When you think about it, it’s only been within my lifetime (approaching 68) that we’ve had antibiotics. Penicillin and the like. Before I was born if you cut yourself there was a real, though remote, possibility that your wound could get infected and you might actually die. I was in my early teens when the heart-lung machine was invented paving the way to open-heart bypass surgery.

You either get better or you die.

We here in the United States have been brainwashed into the idea that we have the best health care in the world even though statistics prove that isn’t really so. Sure, if you live in a large metropolitan area as I do you have access to good care. I only live five blocks from a large medical center and when  I had my heart attack last July I was receiving treatment within minutes (at the cost of $58,000.00 for a two and a half day stay) and there’s no doubt it saved my life. But I also ask people what they think would happen to them if they were on vacation here in the land of the world’s best health care and they decided they wanted to visit say, Mr. Rushmore. They’re driving along the road to their destination and their heart goes YAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! What happens then? They’re dead! Period! Write the obit.

I’m not being morbid here. We each owe our creator a death. It’s the real cost of living. Each and every one of us is on that slippery slope and there’s no negotiating our way out of it. It’s going to happen. Of course there are some good jokes about the inevitable. “I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather…not screaming in terror like the passengers in his car.” I’ve often said, “When it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go. I just don’t want to be on a plane when it’s someone else’s time to go and he drags me along with him. And how do they arrange it so that 200 people whose turn it is to go all get on the same plane together?

From what I’ve seen in Panama health care is decent and certainly reasonably priced. One of the medications I have to take daily is Plavix. Here in the States the cheapest price I’ve been able to find for it comes to $144/month. In Chitre, Panama I was able to walk into a pharmacy and buy it, without a prescription, for $80!

When I was staying with my friend Frank in Panama City he had to visit his doctor. We went to a nice modern clinic on the Via Argentina in El Cangrejo. As nice as any clinic available here in Fort Lauderdale. His bill was $3.19. That’s right, three dollars and nineteen cents and they chased him out the door to give him his penny change, too.

Just to prove I’m not joking I took this picture in Chitre:


General consultation with a doctor…$3.00. Try that in the States.

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One response to “Health Care

  1. It’s true. My husband of 37 years, in excellent condition, got sick in October with pneumonia and died three weeks later. His friend, and pastor of our church, died of a heart attack yesterday. My mom was killed in a car accident. We truly do not know how long we have. We also don’t know how long we will have with the people that matter to us. That should be on our minds each and every day. It would change how we treat each other.

    I like the blog, by the way. Saw your link on the shantyboat list. Our Aqua Home is more houseboat, but it will be my first try at life on a boat. I’ve spent a lot of time in travel trailers so the Aqua Home looks spacious. Pictures of it on my blog, if you’d like a look.