I'm thinking of retiring at least part time in Costa Rica. I know Humalog is available there (at about $25/bottle.) But does anyone know if MiniMed infusion sets or reservoirs are? I can't even find anything about Medtronic's global locations on their website. If anyone else can, can you provide a link?
Hi Dave. As far as I know, pump suppliers won't ship internationally. But another option: I retired to Guatemala. While there I used a courier service which had a mailing address in Miami then couriered it down from there. It wasn't cheap but it was a good option for things that could only be mailed within the country. I moved back to the states for several reasons but one of them was medical costs. Though meds were cheaper there than the U.S. I couldn't be reimbursed at the same level as I was here so they cost more. In general, it was both harder and more expensive to live outside the states than I'd anticipated. But if you are considering Costa Rica you probably have more resources than I did and also Costa Rica has a better infrastructure than Guatemala so less frustration. Good luck! I moved back before I got my pump but that's how I would have done it if I were still there.
Thanks for the quick response and for the tip on couriers. Good thought, but as you say, expensive. May have to consider going back on MDI. Or somehow get my insurance company, or Medicare once I get there to provide more than a 90 day supply.
Wow, Guatemala! You are brave! Were you in Guatemala City? I have an adopted daughter who came from an orphanage in the Rio Dulce. But, as beautiful as it is, I'm not sure I could live there!
We're you able to get health care in Guatemala as a resident? That may be one advantage of Costa Rica which, according to most surveys I've seen, has a better ranking for health care than the U.S. But it is scary, that's for sure.
Our plan at the moment is to rent for a few months starting late this year/early next to see how it goes. I think we'll be out in the country, but pretty close to San Jose so that, if emergency health care is needed, it's only about 30 min to one of the big hospitals. Baylor runs one there so I guess that would be my choice.
Hi Dave. No, I lived in Antigua, which is about an hour from Guatemala City. Guatemala City, surprisingly had decent health care, though I'm sure Costa Rica is way better. In general, Guatemala is pretty undeveloped though Antigua is better because of the tourism and the ex-pats. I loved living there but it could be very frustrating. Not sure what you mean by "health care as a resident". Anyone in Guatemala can have health care and you go to either the public or private services depending on your resources. The actual doctors visits, labs, even specialists were quite cheap and good. One thing I miss is that you don't need prescriptions for anything but just go to the Farmacia and buy it. Also labs: You just went to the lab, requested a test, and a couple days later went to get your results. No doctor needed unless you wanted to bring your results to your doctor to discuss. Much more mature imho!
I don't know if I'd describe my experience living in another country, even an undeveloped country as scary so much as "difficult". I think your plan to rent for a few months is a great idea! That's what everyone told me to do, but I wasn't in a position to do that. I lived there for only two years but it was one of the greatest experiences of my life and I don't regret it. I'm going back to visit this summer for the first time since I left four years ago. I've only been to Costa Rica once and found it beautiful and tranquilo but missing the culture of Guatemala. But it definitely might be easier to live there. So cool you have a daughter who is Guatemalteca; I hope she got/gets to visit!
I have a related question. I am thinking of spending a month in Guatemala this summer with my teenage daughter and wonder what your experience was with getting insulin and supplies there in Antigua and Lake Atitilan areas. I had a terrible experience once in central america where I lost all my supplies and found that there was none to be had at all in Belieze city (but this was years ago). I have been to Costa Rica a few times but only to Tkial for 2 days once 20 years ago what would you give as trip advice in general?
How cool, jmhnyc! I will also be in Antigua for a couple weeks in July/August. I don't know about the lake, but in Antigua there is no problem buying insulin in the farmacias. I bought pens there (Lantus and Apidra) which are sold individually rather than in boxes of five for about Q100 (around $13). I also had no problem getting test strips when I was there - I used a Acucheck when I was there. In Antigua you can get what you need but don't wait until last minute for when you need things because sometimes they are out of things and you need to wait until they get deliveries. You can also get lab tests for around Q100 and get the results for yourself a couple days later and doctor visits are also around the same cost and you don't need appointments, you just go during the office hours and wait. Antigua is pretty easy for medical needs and Guatemala City also has specialists and good resources.
Edificio del ICE
Sabana Norte, 250 mts. Oese y 250 Norte.
San José, Costa Rica
Tel: (506 2) 549-2200
Fax: (506 2) 231-7560
Hi Dave - and anyone else that might have some updated info.
My 19 yo son with Type 1 is in Costa Rica for a year. He traveled down with as many pump supplies as he could get an rX for at once, and didn’t have any problems going through customs. I need to get him the rest - another 6 month supply. I’m not getting good info from DHL. The USPS says no problem, but I find that hard to believe.
I am planning on going to visit and taking him the supplies. I will have an rX from his doctor with me, and I would guess I need proof he is my son. Any ideas on whether this will work?
Any info about courier service will be helpful too.
I have been in touch with Medtronic down there and the pump supplies are very expensive. Our insurance covers it here so I’d like to somehow get it to them.
I don’t have specific info on Costa Rica but I just arrived back from travel to Australia and New Zealand with a full complement of pump supplies and insulin. I went through four opportunities for border agents to question my medical supplies (2x Australia, 1x New Zealand, 1x US upon return).
I checked the box on the arrival card about carrying medical supplies and medications. In Australia they asked me if I had an medications beyond pills. I responded that I had insulin with me. He immediately waved me through. I think they are more interested in illegal drugs and steroids. I did get sniffed by a beagle while waiting to claim my luggage in New Zealand but the dog didn’t alert. Neither me nor my luggage was searched during my travel.
I think if you have a written Rx from your son’s doctor and proof that you are his father, then I think that should suffice. Perhaps a photocopy of your son’s picture page from his passport might help.