Mexico is putting together health care proposals designed to attract millions of U.S. retirees,reported the Miami Herald,yesterday.
When Mexican President,Felipe Calderón,visits Washington in May,it is thought he will put forward a "low-profile agreement" to allow Medicare to be available to U.S. retirees using Mexico health care.
Describing the idea as "win-win for everybody",the Florida daily said the plan could develop into the biggest cooperative project between the U.S. and Mexico since the 1994 NAFTA agreement.
"It's one of the pillars of our plans to trigger economic and social well-being in both countries,'' Mexico's ambassador to the U.S.,Arturo Sarukhan,told the Miami Herald.
Investment Properties Mexico predicted last month that the U.S. health care changes would lead to such an opportunity. Indeed,Calderón is said to have discussed the idea with U.S. President,Barack Obama,when he visited last year,but the U.S. leader asked him to wait until after the U.S. reforms had been passed.
Over a million "baby boomer" U.S. retirees already live in Mexico part or full-time and that number could soar to 5 million by 2025. Many argue that allowing their U.S. insurance,including Medicare or Medicaid,to cover treatment in Mexico would be a winning opportunity for everybody.
ProMexico,an agency that promotes foreign investment in Mexico,has long been calling for the idea andCarlos Slim,the world's richest man,is already investing in clinics to handle the new wave of 'medical tourism'.
Central to the plan will be the certification of more Mexican hospitals by the U.S. Joint International Commission,to guarantee they meet U.S. standards. Eight Mexican hospitals already have this level of certification and a number of others are waiting.
The Miami Herald said Mexico and the U.S. could "take the first baby steps toward a U.S.-Mexico healthcare agreement by finding a way to pay for Medicare benefits for U.S. expatriates in Mexico,or getting U.S. states to allow similar payments."
Although a full-blown Mexico health care system for U.S. retirees is still likely to be years off,it would be yet another major attraction for U.S. retirees to live south of the border and buy Mexico real estate.