A week ago I went to the IMSS office for a renewal application. My insurance isn’t due until November 1, but I will be out of the country at that time and I want to be sure that my healthcare is in place before I leave this weekend.
My Spanish is well beyond survival although I am by no means fluent. The only real problems I encounter regarding communication are with government agencies here. No-one speaks English in these offices and iTranslate doesn’t quite cut it.
So last week I went to the office on Ave Del Mar. When I had changed my address at the clinic assigned to me, they informed me that renewals have to be done at this office instead. So I am now familiar with both IMSS locations here in Mazatlan.
At the registration desk I explain my situation to the receptionist. And I do this in perfect Spanish thanks to my friend Etziel, a native Mexican. The receptionist hands me a paper outlining all the documents that I require. I carefully repeat to her that I am renewing and am not new to the system. I show her my booklet and my documentation proving that I am already in the system. She is firm. I require all these documents and photos as well. Completely frustrated and uttering some of my favorite choice words under my breath, although I’m sure the receptionist understood those English words, I leave the building.
Etziel and I meet at Starbucks, and he offers to come with me to IMSS to straighten this out. No way do I require all the documents listed on that paper! Although I do feel like I have an albatross hanging around my neck, I am somewhat reassured knowing that Etziel is coming with me next time.
And this morning was next time.We arrive at the IMSS office and he tells the receptionist the same thing I told her last week. Of course he isn’t a gringa and he speaks Spanish much more fluently than I can ever hope to. This time we get a number. We sit down and our number is called after about 20 minutes. We show her the change of address document I had done at the clinic and the copy of my original registration from Guadalajara last year. And the first thing she does is change my address on the computer. I’m dumbfounded! It took 2-1/2 hours to change my address at my clinic. But apparently my clinic’s computer and the business office’s computer aren’t on speaking terms. More photocopies and forms to sign and we are told to get a second number to see the cashier.
Off we go to the cashier and wait our turn. She then prints more documents that we need to present at the bank in order to pay the fees. But not just any bank! Only certain banks are authorized to receive payments. Etziel had his car and a short drive later found us at a Banamex. The first stop is at the ATM outside the bank. We then go inside the bank and take a number and wait our turn. This was actually rather pleasant as the bank was air-conditioned.
A few minutes later we’re back in the car and we find a store that does photocopies. Yes, IMSS wants photocopies of a utility bill and the proof of bank payment. Mexicans love their paperwork! I have more documents on file here in Mexico in the past five years than I had in Canada in my entire life!!!!
We arrive back at IMSS and return to the woman that had begun the process for us earlier. More documents and then an official stamp! My insurance has been renewed and I will never have to see this office again for another year. (Yes, it’s an annual renewal.) And it only took two hours! On the plus side it provides many Mexicans with employment. And, as Martha used to say, that is a good thing.