Mexico's Plan to Attract 5-Million U.S. Retirees

Last Updated: May 27, 2010 by
Categories: Healthcare, Retirement

By Maggie Van Ostrand

Without fanfare, President Felipe Calderon has been quietly working on attracting millions of U.S. retirees to Mexico by proposing the expansion of retirement benefits and medical tourism. It is anticipated this proposal will be brought up when President Calderon meets with President Barack Obama on an official visit May 19th, sources say. President Calderon, not one to give up easily, already has a Plan B: to raise the same issue later this year, if nothing happens between the two nations on May 19th.

Mexico's ambassador to the U.S., Arturo Sarukhan told Miami Herald columnist, Andres Oppenheimer, "It's one of the pillars of our plans to trigger economic and social well-being in both countries. We will be seeking to increasingly discuss this issue in coming months and years."

Last August in Guadalajara at a U.S.-Canada-Mexico summit, at the request of President Barack Obama, President Calderon shelved the same idea until the passage of health care reform in the U.S. Now that health care reform has passed, it is time to bring the matter up again. First things first.

About one million U.S. expats already live in Mexico, and that number can grow to five million by 2025, according to estimates based on U.S. Census figures. (Actually, five million U.S. retires already live abroad, mostly in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Brazil, with an additional 1.5 million in Europe, and 850,000 in Asia.)

Enticing even more U.S. retirees to move south of the border is expected to depend somewhat on getting the U.S. Joint International Commission to certify hospitals that meet the standards of U.S. hospitals. Already, nine Mexican hospitals have been so certified, and others are currently awaiting certification.

Already certified:

American British Cowdray Medical Center IAP Observatorio Campus
Mexico City
Accredited December 6, 2008

American British Cowdray Medical Center IAP Sante Fe Campus
Mexico City
Accredited December 12, 2008

Christus Muguerza Alta Especialidad
Monterrey, Nuevo Leon
Accredited July 22, 2007

Clinica Cumbres Chihuahua
Chihuahua, Chihuahua
Accredited April 23, 2008

Hospital CIA Hermosillo
Hermosillo, Sonora
Accredited December 11, 2008

Hospital CIMA Monterrey
San Pedro Garza Garcia, Nuevo Leon
Accredited December 19, 2008

Hospital Mexico Americano, SC
Guadalajara, Jalisco
Accredited March 20, 2010

Hospital San Jose Tec de Monterrey
Monterrey, Nuevo Leon
Accredited December 25, 2007

Hospital y Clinica UCA. S.A. de C.V.
Monterrey, Nuevo Leon

Healthcare costs in Mexico are approximately 70 per cent lower than healthcare costs in the U.S. so, if Calderon's proposal to Obama starts with an agreement allowing Medicare benefits to U.S. retirees living in Mexico, instead of Medicare only covering healthcare services in the U.S., the savings would be enormous to the U.S. and also bring needed dollars to the Mexican medical profession.

This is being quietly talked about at the highest levels, leaving media attention to the negativity it seems to prefer with both the drug wars in Northern Mexico and healthcare naysayers in U.S. politics.

In other words, while the loudmouths roar, the whisperers are getting things done.