We are members of Medica Uruguaya, a local health care provider. Many people cite affordable health care in Uruguay as one of the reasons to retire here. Being relatively healthy, I have mostly looked at health insurance as "catastrophic coverage", only to be used in worst case scenarios. In fact, I had probably only gone to a doctor a few times in my life, until the last couple of years, and then only because I had contracted pneumonia. I had a hernia operation just before leaving for Uruguay (getting that taken care of was mandated by my wife), and other than that, I have not had much use for doctors. So, while health care insurance is wise, it probably would not be the highest consideration from my standpoint.
My wife and I receive complete coverage for 1,363 pesos/month each or about $128 US for us both. That entitles us to consulations and major surgeries such as hip replacements and heart operations, etc. Several expats that we know have had full hip replacements, very successfully. The doctors are knowledgeable and the facilities are modern and well kept. Interestingly, when you are hospitalized here, there are a few things different than the US. For instance, there needs to be a family member (or you can hire someone) to care for your patient needs during your hospital stay (water, helping you to the bathroom, etc). That is considered your part in the process. They also make an "in home" inspection of your living arrangements before admitting you to surgery, to make sure that you will receive sanitary health care after leaving the hospital.
In the outlying communities, health care needs are met by smaller clinics, where doctors rotate through the week. We see an English speaking doctor who was born in the US and returned here after medical training. Medical tests and visits to specialists cost extra. I recently went in for a complete blood analysis. The battery of tests costs about $10 US, and was very thorough. When I went in next week to get the results, the doctor went through the various parts of the report. Hemoglobin- OK, Platelets-OK, etc., etc. In fact, most everything, including the urine sample, tested out OK- except the cholesterol levels. I was at 226, while 200 is the target here in Uruguay. I have been told that the US is now wanting to see a cholesterol level of 170 achieved (bad news for holders of MacDonald's stock certificates).
Anyway (and here is the reason that I hate doctors)- she wants to improve my health. She actually wants me to do something about it. That is because Uruguay is very much into preventative medicine. I assume that most of the world's medical profession is into preventative medicine, I just never took much note. She wants me to cut out butter (using plenty of olive oil), whole milk, fats, etc. Then I have to come back in a couple of months, let them take another blood sample for tests and see where we stand.
I DON'T WANT TO GET BETTER! Oh well, having said that, I am starting to cook better meals. Avoiding fats where I can, not using salt. Boy if this trend keeps up- next thing I will be exercising. But lets not get carried away. Let's see what happens in a couple of months...