July

2016

Expat Healthcare In Ecuador

Ecuador, TRAVEL

Hola, friends. Hello Wednesday (almost). Sorry, I don’t have an Inside A Traveler’s Walls for you today, but I have something better, expat healthcare in Ecuador! Fun, right?

I have talked about this topic several times during our two years of full-time travel, however I still feel it is a topic that needs some more screen time.

As a traveling family we are often asked the same questions over and over again. For example, money, social, safety and healthcare, these are the hot topics. After being out here on the front lines of travel I can tell you that NONE of the above are worth fretting over or worth staying home for. I would go as far to say that healthcare is the last reason I would stay home, unless of course we had a chronic condition that only had the care we needed in the US. But if you are a generally healthy family, then go and don’t worry. We’ve had fantastic expat healthcare in Ecuador so far and around the world.

*My post is based on our experience with the medical care in three different countries and in the US. I cannot vouch for other countries that we have not lived in, however I can say that overwhelmingly we have had amazing healthcare outside of the US. FOR A FRACTION OF THE PRICE!

We have insurance, however, IMG only covers serious issues. Plus, many visits (even though considered serious) still need to be pre-approved with them before the service is rendered. As a result, we are very selective when/for what we visit the ER in our travel countries.

Several months ago I had a terrible virus. I had a sore throat, a cough, a sore throat and then a debilitating cough deep in my lungs. After six weeks of this mess, I developed a pain in my chest near my heart. I tolerated it for an entire week until I woke up one morning and I could barely get out of bed. Will insisted that this had gone beyond the “it’s just a virus” stage and I needed to go to the ER, immediately. As a side note, I have MVP which is not usually a problem. However, I am susceptible to bacteria getting in through my fluttering valve. I had been sick for so long and then my chest was hurting so he figured it was time to get the heart checked out just as a precaution.

We went to the private hospital in Quito knowing that we would most likely be paying out-of-pocket, but we also knew it would be a fraction of what we would pay with IMG insurance had we waited until our US visit. This was our first experience with expat healthcare in Ecuador. I had a chest X-ray, blood word, EKG, injections, and prescriptions all for $775. I left feeling better (for the meantime) and confident I had received a thorough examination. I was told to follow-up with my cardiologist for an ECHO if the pain did not subside just to rule out bacteria in my heart. However, they were confident this was not the case because I did not have the symptoms.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I visited the doctor for more injections and he assured me that the inflamed nerve under my ribs would eventually heal and I would be completely pain-free. I am very close to that point now, but it has taken a long time to heal, as well as been incredibly painful.

I was pleased with the price and care I received during my ER visit in Quito. Expat healthcare in Ecuador is fantastic, in case you’re wondering. I also had a colonoscopy at the same hospital (I had a preexisting condition, not 50 yet, don’t get excited) and that cost me $540. The doctor, equipment, and professionalism were the same (if not better) than what I received in the US. As a family, we have visited the ER (and been hospitalized) in France, had precancer cells removed in Costa Rica, had dental surgery (don’t even ask the price on this, you will cry), got braces and so much move over the course of two years. And each and every time we have been handled with care and expertise.

Now we are back in the US for six weeks and as much as we tried to get all of our medical and dental care taken care of in Ecuador, sometimes things creep up. Let’s just call these things… food poisoning from eating ceviche. Yes, I eat raw fish and yes I know what can happen, but in 27 years of eating raw fish I have only gotten sick twice. Knock on some wood for me please. Well, the night before we left Ecuador, we went out to an amazing Peruvian restaurant with our friends and I got sick five hours later. My friend was fine, her hubby was sick for three days and I am still dealing with the symptoms one week later. Can you believe it? On Sunday, I decided it was time to visit the Urgent Care in the US. I had held off as long as possible because I knew the cost and result. And it was exactly as I had predicted. The doctor barely touched me, had me in and out quickly and gave me a “traveler’s diarrhea” diagnosis. I explained to him when they tried to discharge me that I did not drink the water in Mexico (or in this case Quito) and I was not on vacation. I knew I did not have traveler’s diarrhea. I had lived in Quito for 10 months, ate some bad fish and wanted to make sure I did not have a parasite. He would not entertain that theory, gave me antibiotics, and sent me on my way. I have to tell you that I was completely disappointed by the cost ($500), the lack of service, and the diagnosis with barely any research. I never experienced such crappy treatment from a medical professional in any developing country. Now, I am not saying that all US doctors are terrible, but the point I am trying to make is that the US is not the only country where one can get superb medical care. We’d take the expat healthcare in Ecuador over the US, in this case!

So, as I sit here typing, healing (thankfully) and sharing I must say I am grateful for good medical care wherever it is. Don’t be scared, go travel.

Besos,
Jessica

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