However there is a greater crunch…rising medical costs and inflation mean that even people who have insurance cannot afford Western medical care. Their coverage is limited or their co-share is more then they can afford.
This is not so in cotacachi where health savings grow by the day.
A recent article by Karena Cawthon for The New York Times said:
“Many of the 158 million people covered by employer health insurance are struggling to meet medical expenses that are much higher than they used to be — often because of some combination of higher premiums, less extensive coverage, and bigger out-of-pocket deductibles and co-payments.
“With medical costs soaring, the coverage many people have may not adequately protect them from the financial shock of an emergency room visit or a major surgery. For some, even routine doctor visits might now take a back seat to basic expenses like food and gasoline.”
Yet as health costs rise the effectiveness of Western health care falls.
Another April 27, 2008 New York Times article by by Kevin Sack says:
“THROUGHOUT the 20th century, it was an American birthright that each generation would live longer than the last. Year after year, almost without exception, the anticipated life span of the average American rose inexorably, to 78 years in 2005 from 61 years in 1933, when comprehensive data first became available.
“But new research shows that those reassuring nationwide gains mask a darker and more complex reality. A pair of reports out this month affirm that the rising tide of American health is not lifting all boats, and that there are widening gaps in life expectancy based on the interwoven variables of income, race, sex, education and geography.
“The new research adds weight to the political construct popularized by former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, that there are two Americas (if not more), measured not only by wealth but also by health, and that the poles are growing farther apart.
“The most startling evidence came last week in a government-sponsored study by Harvard researchers who found that life expectancy actually declined in a substantial number of counties from 1983 to 1999, particularly for women. Most of the counties with declines are in the Deep South, along the Mississippi River, and in Appalachia, as well as in the southern Plains and Texas.”
The article went on to say that the people of Appalachia used to be among the longest lived. I can believe it. There is a family cemetery here on our farm. These five headstones show the people lived to be 86, 91, 95, 100 and 115! The 115 year old lived from 1794 to 1909. I wonder what type of medical insurance she had back here in these hills. Here is that cemetery.
There has been a rising tide of income concentration in the US since 1980.
Allen Greenspan addressed this problem in his book “The Age of Turbulence” in a chapter entitled “Education and Income Inequality.” Greenspan points out that by tracking average hourly wages for the past decade, he found that 20% of employed Americans now earn 46 percent of the total wages. This percentage has risen from 41% in 1997.
This growing gap is a concern on many fronts…but means, that in many parts of the Western world, good health care is only available to an increasingly smaller portion of top earners in the nation.
This is not so in Cotacachi and Imbabura province where health care is getting better but prices are astoundingly low compared to the West.
There is every type of medicine available, beginning with the most modern hospitals.
Steve just posted an informative article about Cotacachi health savings and the brand new high tech Ecuador hospital near us.
We enjoyed Ecuador’s hospital service, when Merri, fell and dislocated her arm. Here is what I wrote at the time.
“Everything about this experience was wonderful (as much as a trip to the emergency room can be) from the many people who stopped in the streets genuinely offering help to her, the very understanding taxi driver, rushing wrong ways down streets, taking every short cut, sympathetic and determined to get us there fast.
“At Metropolitano Hospital things really excelled. A Doctor met us at the car. The emergency room was calm. Nurses and Doctors took immediate action, treated us all gently, letting all of us in the treatment room, discussing what had happened, what was going on, how they would help.
“The dislocation was severe. She did not want to have any drugs or be put to sleep, so they called their top specialist. He was in the middle of Sunday lunch in the country but rushed right down (and stayed three hours to make sure, after the final x rays that everything was okay). Dr. Xavier Ramos, an Orthopedic Surgeon, had studied at the University of Madrid and spent 10 years resetting bones without any anesthesia, so quickly, confidently and easily relocated the elbow without once asking her to change her mind and accept the drugs.
“Not once until the ordeal was over did anyone mention costs, who or how we were going to pay. The bill for the emergency room, two emergency room doctors, the cast, six X rays, blood tests and miscellany came to a paltry $47.82. The specialist’s afternoon cost $100.
“There was no push, brusqueness or intimidation felt. We were all treated with courtesy, respect and the whole family was involved, informed and welcomed through the entire process. This helped Merri and me know and think it was good for us too, being there and not worrying in the waiting room. Even more surprising were our Ecuadorian friends who showed up to drive us back to the hotel. How they found out is a mystery still, but the ride so warming, making us feel at home.
What is the price for this genuine sweetness, respect for the patient’s wishes and gentle care? This is something money cannot buy.”
Another readers shared this story.
“Gary, Just a quick little medical story. When Judy and I were in Ecuador about a year ago we had this experience. We were coming back from the village and I was carrying a glass bottle in a paper bag. Coming up some stone stair I tripped and fell. My hand landed on the bottle which broke and sliced my thumb. It was a pretty good gash and was bleeding like crazy. Judy insisted I go to the local clinic. We called a taxi, the person working the desk went with us, After we arrived, the owner of the hotel came to make sure we were okay.
“A wonderful female doctor and her nurse assistant, took me in, laid me back and very gently talked to me and looked at my cut. They proceeded to very professionally and gracefully numb my thumb, and sew it up with four stitches.
“Excellent treatment, and when I asked them how much I owed them the bill was $5.00 USD. I was shocked and think I gave them a $10 tip which they were very grateful for. A few days later I went back to have them check it to make sure all was well before heading back to the states. There was a different doctor. He unwrapped it, checked it out, cleaned it and re-wrapped it. The cost, an amazing $.50. Yes that was fifty cents. Simple story, but I was blown away at the low cost, and the gentle professional manner in which they treated me. Sincerely,”
Another reader shared this:
“I spent a couple of hours helping a guest who had an insect bite that became infected. We went to the hospital by taxi – $1. Waited half an hour in emergency, then a very sweet lady doctor and slightly sterner but also very pleasant nurse proceeded to clean and disinfect the wound on the swollen leg. Cost of treatment – $3 !! (It’s so low you feel kind of embarrassed paying). Then we were led by the nurse to the in-hospital pharmacy and bought anti-biotic pills, an antibiotic cream and a painkiller – total $5.10. Then we were shown out of the hospital and jumped back in a cab for El Meson – another $1. Grand Total $10.10. In the US this would have cost $150 for similar attention before any medicines were bought. That’s inflation busting – Ecuadorian style!”
Here is yet another story about Cotacachi health savings.
“Hi Merri, I want to thank you for including me in the trip to the wonderful Ecuador dermatologist in Otavalo last month! I declare the surgery he performed for $40 to remove the ugly growth on my face, a complete success!
“As of today, there is no further trace of the growth or the surgery!!!!! This is such a blessing. Even though US docs proclaimed this cosmetic, it was always a drag to see this mark any time I looked in a mirror, and now it is completely gone.
“Here is another example of the wonders of high quality health professionals in Ecuador performing their work with the latest equipment with skill and compassion. Please convey my gratitude to the doctor the next time you see him! Twelve years ago I was told by docs in the US that to remove this growth would cost around $1200, so I never did anything about it since it was ‘elective’ and not covered by insurance.
“I really appreciate your finding this excellent doctor and putting me in contact with him!
“We send our best wishes to you, Gary, Ma, Steve and the fabulous El Meson staff! We miss you all and hope to see you again soon! Fondly”.
Here is another Cotacachi health savings story.
“Dear Gary and Merri, I have been in Cotacachi for several weeks and
have watched many happy travelers come and go. Some came for the
classes, some for the dentist and some just to have a place to rest
after spending many months at hard work. After hearing the exclamations
of a few who had wonderful, therapeutic dermatological facials from an
office in Ibarra, I decided to try one for myself.
“My intention was to simply get the facial, but after arriving and
meeting the doctor, I was so impressed with his professional demeanor
and his spotless, modern office that I mentioned a cyst that had been
bothering me for several years. Imaging my surprise when he said, ‘Of
course, let’s take care of it right now.’ In less than half an hour I
had the cyst excised painlessly and was bandaged and ready to go. After
asking me about any allergies to drugs that I might have, I was handed
instructions and a prescription. My total so far – a remarkable $40.00.
“Our wonderful driver stopped at the “farmacia” (pharmacy) and took
my prescriptions to be filled. For a Z-Pak of zithromycin I paid a
whopping $14.00. Along with a prescription for a pain medication, an
antiseptic wash and bandages, my farmacia total was $27.00 and some
“Before traveling to Ecuador I had checked on having the cyst removed by a dermatologist in Texas.
“Here are my savings – both doctors, in the US and in Ecuador, are specialists.
Low Cost Health Care Comparison
San Antonio Dermatologist Ecuador Dermatologist
$1500 – for simple surgery $40.00
$125 – antibiotics and pain medication $27.35
“Even factoring in my trip to Ecuador and a hotel bill, I am way
ahead. My doctor was polite, efficient and well trained. His office was
clean, bright and had the latest medical equipment. I was not asked for
any insurance or any money prior to the procedure.
“I did not have the facial that day, but my friend did and was more
than thrilled at her experience. The cost of the facial – $20. Mine is
scheduled for next week!
“Thanks, Gary and Merri for doing the research and making the
information available for those who come and visit. In just a few
minutes something that was not dangerous, but had bothered me for
years, was gone, with a tiny incision and a stitch!”
Other health saving modalities are openly accepted and available. One Medical Doctor in Cotacachi, for example, uses cleansing foot baths. Here is Steve enjoying this treatment.
Steve wrote about this in an article on Cotacachi health savings and Cotacachi medical information.
Plus Ecuador has not abandoned the ancient forms of healing either. The old knowledge is still here around us in Cotacachi. Here are some shots from our previous Ecuador shaman mingo tour.
I could go one but the point is clear. In many ways…for many people life is better…sweeter, less stressful and less expensive in Cotacachi Ecuador.
Until next message may you never need medical care.
Join us in Cotacachi or here in the Blue Ridge.
May 13-17 Ecuador Import Export Course
June 11-15 Ecuador Spanish Course
June 16-17 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
June 19-21 Shamanic Mingo Tour
Sept. 17-20 Ecuador Coast & Quito Real Estate Tour
Sept 23-27 Ecuador Spanish Course
Sept 28-29 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
Oct 14-18 Ecuador Import Export Course
Nov 10-11 Imbabura Real Estate Tour
November 12-15, 2008 Ecuador Coast & Quito Real Estate Tour