Prof talks about U.S. retirees go south

Why is it that conversations in Washington tend to be one-sided? Take immigration. While the debate has been fixated on what to do with undocumented workers in the USA, increasing numbers of Americans, many retirees, are moving in the opposite direction.
Professor David Warner of the University of Texas, who studies the integration of the U.S. and Mexican health care systems, says more than 75,000 U.S. retirees live in Mexico. And those numbers are expected to rise as more Americans retire, and as U.S. health care and nursing home costs along with the cost of living continue to skyrocket. Syndicated finance columnist Scott Burns predicts thousands of boomers will move to Mexico in the years ahead to sustain a similar lifestyle on fixed incomes. Burns estimates, based on a range of data, that a retired couple living off $26,400 a year in Social Security benefits can raise their standard of living, without paying Medicare expenses, to $42,400 by moving to Mexico, where the cost of living can be up to 40 percent lower than in the USA. U.S. retirees who can't afford private health insurance can qualify for the Mexican Social Security system. Mexico's health care system charges only $270 annual premiums that include access to hospitals, outpatient clinics, and all medications and care at no additional costs. It's no wonder that new retirement communities are sprouting up in Mexico, many in resort areas where lower property values and taxes help U.S. seniors stretch their retirement funds. Though it can be argued that U.S. retirees bring more money into the local Mexican economy than their Mexican counterparts in the USA, both groups of immigrants are on the move for the same reason: to improve their economic well-being. The immigration conversation is complex, two-sided and ongoing. Each side has its share of the good and the bad, but the flow of people back and forth ultimately is good for both countries. Mexico seems to understand this reality and is taking an open-minded approach. Isn't it time we did, too?

USA Today
A Warm Welcome as U.S. Retirees Go South
(Jan. 11)