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Chuck Bolotin of Best Mexico Movers – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Podiatrist Ajijic Dr. GeorgeThe cost for healthcare services is so reasonable in the Lake Chapala and Ajijic area that, even after going to the doctor six or seven times, I haves never made an insurance claim; it’s simply not worth the bother.
 
The most I have spent for a visit was 700 pesos (about US $35) out of pocket, with no insurance involvement.  I have also paid 150 pesos (about US $7.50) for a full 30-minute visit and I had a physician administer an injection I needed on a weekend for 20 pesos (about a dollar).
 
A one hour podiatrist treatment is about $12.50 (video here getting an orthotic.)
 
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X-rays are also very inexpensive, so much so that I forgot how much I paid, but it wasn’t much.
 
I had a few MRIs, which, if I remember correctly, were about a quarter of what they would cost in the US.
 
Consistent with this, my monthly insurance payments dropped from over $1,000 per month in the US, to $225 here, and what I have here in Mexico is better insurance.
 
The combination of the higher quality / lower cost of healthcare in Mexico is one of the main reasons we live here.
 
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Andre Bellon of Bellon Insurance Agents – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Andre Bellon's Insurance Agency on the Carretera, Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe cost of healthcare and medical services in Chapala and Ajijic can range from 600 pesos to 1,000 pesos (US $30 - $50) per visit to the doctor, depending on the specialty of the doctor you’re visiting. Neurologists and cardiologists charge the most, while the others charge the lower rates. 
 
A visit to a neurologist for an initial consult costs 1,000 pesos (US $50), and a visit to an internist or a general practitioner costs only 600 pesos. Initial consults normally take about an hour to an hour and a half. If you’re visiting a cardiologist, he’s only going to focus on the heart, and that will take a little less time, but the initial consult almost always takes at least 30 to 45 minutes.
 
These initial consult costs are not a co-pay. These are not discounted rates aimed for the insurance company, but are costs if you walk into the clinics off the street, and you have insurance but you don’t even bother to submit a claim. Even if you go to some insurance companies, most of them here in Mexico have convenience agreements with pharmacies. That means you can go with your ID card with the insurance company and present it before you make the payment, and they will then give you a discount.
 
Staying in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital will cost 30,000 pesos - 50,000 pesos (US $1,470 - $2,460) per day depending on which hospital it is. In the United States, hospitals can charge around $10,000 for staying in the Intensive Care Unit, so there’s a big difference. 
 
Cancer requires four stages of treatment, each stage costing around 400,000 pesos ($20,000). In the United States, on the other hand, each stage of cancer treatment costs $100,000
 
With Mexican insurance, you have to go over your deductible so that the insurance company starts paying. If you have an illness that’s never going to go over your deductible, the insurance company is never going to pay anything. Long term illnesses like heart problems, cancer, and diabetes are conditions you will have for the rest of your life, so if you start paying, you’re going to have to be paying them yourself until you meet your deductibles, and then present all those factudas (invoices) to the insurance company through your agent so that they can open the claim. The insurance company can start paying you back after you’ve met your deductibles.  
 
(Andre Bellon's Insurance Agency on the Carretera, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
 
Karen Herrtwich of S&S Auto – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Doctors who work for the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS), Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingDepending on age, and if in good health, insurance in Mexico costs approximately US $2,000 a year. Although I’m under the federal healthcare system, IMSS - if a minor problem, I will often use private medical facilities – cost for a consultation in a walk-in clinic is approximately 250 pesos (US $12.50) , quicker and more convenient.  If a major surgery, I would also consider my options for a private hospital with the surgeon of my choice, and definitely at a much lower cost.  Major back surgery will cost 5 or 6 times more in the US than in Mexico and with very qualified specialists.
 
IMSS is the cheapest way to get medical in Mexico, but takes longer. You could wait months to get appointments with specialists. Although the doctors working with IMSS are very good, the problem is with their systems, government funding and under-staffing.
 
There are great private hospitals in Guadalajara with all the up-to-date equipment, great doctors, proficient staffing and necessary facilities for proper care.
 
(Doctors who work for the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS), Mexico, pictured.)
Magy Carmona of Magy Carmona at Lake Chapala Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Ad for a medical seminar at Casita Montana, Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingYou will find healthcare and medical services in every corner in Chapala and Ajijic. This is because the doctors have found their market, so you will find dental and medical services all around, including plastic surgery. The prices are cheaper than in Guadalajara. 
 
For example, when I used to live in Guadalajara, I used to take my kids to a pediatrician there, and the pediatrician would charge 800 pesos (US $38.52). Here in Ajijic, a pediatrician charges 400 pesos ($19.26), which is half of what they charge in Guadalajara. 
 
I’m a former psychologist, and in Guadalajara, I used to charge patients 700 pesos (US $33.70) an hour. Here in Ajijic, I only charge patients 400 pesos ($19.26) or 500 pesos ($24.07). It’s a lot cheaper in Ajijic.
 
The schools and all other services are also cheaper in Chapala than in Guadalajara.  
 
(Ad for a medical seminar at Casita Montana, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Gabriel Varela, MD of Gabriel Varela - Neurosurgeon – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Neurosurgeon Dr. Gabriel Varela in his office, Ajijic, Lake Chapala, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIn Ajijic and the entire Chapala Lakeside area, a consult, for example, with a specialist such as an ophthalmologist, orthopedic surgeon, or gastroenterologist, would be around 600 pesos (US $30.50). General doctors of course cost less. I’m not certain, but I believe the cost to see a general practitioner is in the range of 200 to 300 pesos (US $10-15).
 
As a neurosurgeon, my office consult is 800 pesos (US $41). I usually go to the house of the patients when they need it. After I finish these answers I’m going to the house of one patient of mine. My consult at home is 900 pesos (US $46) or it depends. If it’s a little farther than this area it’s 1000 pesos (US $51).
 
When I operate on my patients in Guadalajara for lumbar spine, cervical spine, or the brain I usually do rounds every day, and, if needed, every day I visit my patients in their homes. I work every day until the patient has recovered.  This is not usually the case.  It’s my pleasure to do this because it’s much better for the recovery of my patients.
 
(Neurosurgeon Dr. Gabriel Varela in his office, Ajijic, Lake Chapala, Mexico, pictured.)
Francisco Araiza of interlago realestate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Hospital Universitario de Guadalajara, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingExpats usually have two options with regard to healthcare in Chapala and Ajijic.
 
Some expats join the IMSS (Mexican Social Security) program of the government. Once they’ve joined, they can take advantage of the services provided by IMSS. When you go to a doctor through IMSS, they won’t charge you anything.
 
The other option is to go to private doctors or specialists. Some of them are English-speaking, which expats prefer. The cost to see a private doctor is around 400 pesos ($22) plus the prescriptions, paying out of pocket and without insurance. We do have good doctors, especially in Guadalajara, which is the second biggest city in Mexico. 
 
The doctors in Chapala and Ajijic are also good but we only have clinics here. They use the clinics for checkups and as a facility to stabilize you in an emergency but in an emergency they will send you over to Guadalajara (45 minutes away by car) for further attention once you are stabilized. If it is not something serious, then the doctors can take care of it at the clinics here in Chapala and Ajijic.
 
(Hospital Universitario de Guadalajara, Mexico, pictured.)
Alicia Gomez of Collins Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Gatheirng at Nuovo Posada, Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe cost for healthcare and medical services  in Chapala and Ajijic varies depending on which doctor you pick. If you go to a specialist, you would pay 500 to 600 pesos (US $27 to $33) just to go and say hello. It doesn’t matter if you’re sick or not; if you get to the specialist’s office, you have to pay 600 pesos ($33). Medicines and lab tests are not yet included in that amount.
 
If you go to a general practitioner in Maskaras (a clinic in Riberas, in between Ajijic and Chapala), you would also pay 500 pesos ($27). However, if you go to a doctor that doesn’t have a regular clinic but has their offices in their homes or in a little place, they would charge 100 to 300 pesos ($5.50 to $16). They are good doctors but the reason they do not charge more is because they don’t have a fancy place, they don’t have a secretary, or a good-looking assistant. The doctors who charge more, do so because they have to pay for rent, the fancy secretary, etc. The better looking the secretary, the more you are going to pay!
 
In my case, I’d rather pay more but there are people for whom that difference in cost means a lot to them. Most expats would not mind the price difference. However, if you're a Mexican working for 50 pesos ($3) an hour, an extra 100 pesos ($5.50) that you would pay the doctor is 2 hours of your work or an extra 200 pesos ($11) is 4 hours of your work, so you would tend to pick the doctor that doesn’t charge more.
 
(Expat and local gathering at La Nueva Posada, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Lee Steele – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Medical symbol – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingMost Americans (and Canadians, Europeans, etc.) here in the Ajijic/Lake Chapala area pay out-of-pocket for most doctor visits, prescription medicines, dental care, blood tests, etc. because it's so cheap (usually less than your co-pay in the States). 
 
My last porcelain crown here cost $230 USD (vs. $1,200 USD in the States).
 
You can also purchase comprehensive Mexican health insurance for $100-150/month per person (depending on your age) to protect against more costly catastrophic health problems. Note that if you have a previous history of cancer, heart disease or diabetes (the "Big 3"), you will have a very difficult time finding a Mexican insurance company that will accept you.
 
Americans can also join the Seguro Popular national healthcare program in Mexico (and it's free). 
 
There are many very good English-speaking doctors here in the Lakeside area. And, speaking from personal experience, the hospitals in nearby Guadalajara are world-class. 
 
Richard Tingen of Coldwell Banker Chapala Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Seguro Popular – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingHere in the Chapala / Ajijic area, I a doctor would probably charge between 500 and 1000 pesos (US $28 to $55) for a consultation. Personally, I had a cardiologist in Guadalajara that charges me 800 pesos, but he’s a topnotch cardiologist. 
 
Medical care here is very inexpensive.  There is a medical insurance here called Seguro Popular, which was instigated by one of our former presidents.  
 
One of my sales people found that his wife had a lump on her breast and had no insurance. He went to Seguro Popular, registered, and in 3 days they had removed the lump and did a biopsy within a week and it didn’t cost him any more than probably about $100 for the whole treatment plus the medication that she had to take after that treatment. 
 
The same coverage is available to expats.  They would have to register and get the insurance and of course, they’re going to ask you for your visa. 
 
In our case, as a business, we’re obligated to ensure our employees in Seguro Social, which is another benefit that they would get. Not everybody has Seguro Social, but if you don’t have Seguro Social, you have Seguro Popular. You can get Seguro Popular or you can go directly into the Hospital Civil. The Civil Hospital in Guadalajara is an amazing and great, great hospital, and you don’t even have to have any insurance at all and they will take care of you there. It’s really good care. A paint contractor I know who does a lot of work for us needs a kidney transplant and he is going to go to the Seguro Social hospital.   His brother is going to donate him a kidney, and it will cost him very little, if anything.   This hospital in Guadalajara happens to be one of the best transplant hospitals in the whole country for kidneys. 
 
Another thing that’s very interesting that not so many people know is that any woman or child that has cancer gets free treatments through the social security hospitals. They will even rebuild a breast free. It doesn’t cost them anything.
 
(Doctor and patient in the Seguro Popular program, pictured.)
David Truly of Dr. David Truly Ph. D. – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Dr. Gabriel Varela, Chapala, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingA doctor’s visit here in Chapala and Ajijic could cost you around 200 pesos (US $11) for a general practitioner, up to 600 pesos ($33) for a specialist. Lab work could cost around US $20 to $100 depending on what needs to be done. I had a MRI of my neck done and it cost about $300.
 
Generally speaking, office visits are very similar in cost to copays in the United States sometimes. The pricing for services and medical tests are generally anywhere from 30% to 50% less than the price in the US. Healthcare cost also varies depending on the region. There are some regions that have lower healthcare costs and there are some that have higher so to get a general pricing is kind of difficult but it is much more inexpensive than you will find in the United States or in Canada.
 
I had a laparoscopic operation for Barrett’s Syndrome, which is an esophagus-related issue, which cost me about $4,000 but in the States, the same operation would have cost me about $12,000 to $18,000. So it is significantly less. Also, the pricing here in Mexico is not nearly as regulated as in the US so there are a lot of options in Mexico and some hospitals are more expensive than others and there are certain doctors that charge more than others. So you have a lot of options when you’re going to have surgeries or procedures done. Some places charge more because they have better facilities or have better procedures. It is really all up to the customer to do their research.
 
(Dr. Gabriel Varela, neurologist, Chapala, Mexico, pictured.)
Rosa Elia Cepeda of Charter Club Tours – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Hospital Clinica Ajijic logo, Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIt costs around 500 pesos (less than $30) to go to a specialist in Chapala and Ajijic. If you go to a general doctor, it would cost 250 pesos (less than $15). These are doctors that we go to and they are good quality doctors.
 
We usually make friends with our customers and if I need a doctor – a dentist, for example, I would ask three different people and then I decide.
 
The cost to go to a doctor here in Chapala and Ajijic is really good compared to Guadalajara. Doctors in Guadalajara have a day of the week where they come to the different clinics around Chapala and Ajijic and take appointments. They charge less here in Chapala and Ajijic than they do in Guadalajara. A visit to a specialist in Guadalajara would cost you around 800 to 1,000 pesos ($45 to $55), while they charge 500 pesos (less than $30) here in Chapala and Ajijic both for locals and for expats.
 
(Hospital Clinica Ajijic logo, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Anne Dyer of Casita Montana – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Plastic surgery patient at Montana, Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingHealth care and medical services in Chapala and Ajijic cost about 1/3 of the cost or even less than in the United States. A person could have a plastic surgery procedure or a facelift here for about 1/3 of the cost in the US or Canada.
 
For example, recently, we had a young lady from California who stayed here who had a plastic surgery procedure with us. Before she found us through the internet, she had interviewed four other top doctors in the California area and all of them were priced up to three times as much as we charged her here for the procedure, plus we have post-surgery health care. We take care of our patients after the surgery so it is a complete package.
 
The cost for medical services is less than in the US or Canada, which is why we always have people coming from the US and Canada to have their procedures done here. The anti-aging and other surgeries are the same way. They are just 1/3 of the price.
 
Also, Lakeside Medical Center can accept some insurance from the States and Canada. Other surgeries like knee surgeries or hip replacements can be covered by insurance but plastic surgeries are out of pocket. 
 
As an example of the cost for other types of healthcare services and procedures, I went to a general practitioner here in Chapala and Ajijic who charged me US $10 to $20 for a consultation. You could get procedures done here through some of the excellent doctors who studied all over the world. I can refer heart doctors, dermatologists, brain specialists, etc. and they are all wonderful and they speak English. The price is right. 
 
I have gone back to the US and had a few things done over the years just because I am a senior citizen and have Medicare back in the US. I could easily compare the quality of care the doctors give in the US with the care given by the doctors here in Chapala and Ajijic. The doctors here are more compassionate and are more interested in their patients. They spend more time with the patients. They have a feeling of closeness, and that is so important.
 
(Plastic surgery patient at Casita Montana Medical Center, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Jerry Smith, MD – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Event for the Instituto de Cardiovascular de Guadalajara, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingMedical services cost about one-fourth to one-third of what I would charge in Texas today.
 
The medical charges in Guadalajara for a surgical procedure in the hospitals are about the same price as me flying back to Texas and paying my deductible and then flying back here; It’s that cheap. 
 
Here are some examples.  A basic office visit would cost around 200 to 300 pesos (US $10 to $16) in Ajijic. For something more serious, like a stent, they do have world-class cardiology facilities in Guadalajara.  My estimate is that the charge for three stents would be around US $4,000 to $7,000, and then another $10,000 or $15,000 for the hospital.  In the US, the charge would be from $50,000 to $100,000.  
 
(Event for the Instituto de Cardiovascular de Guadalajara, Mexico, pictured.)
Santiago Hernandez of Chapala Med – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Dr. Santiago Hernandez greets an expat patient, Chapala, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe cost for medical services and healthcare in Chapala and Ajijic has a broad range. A general physician at the local drug store who just graduated from medical school will charge you around US $2.25 or even less. The way the physicians make is through the commission agreement they have with the pharmacy. They prescribe the medications that are being sold by the pharmacy. Sometimes, they may not even charge you for a visit if you buy the medication at the pharmacy. These doctors are the ones who haven’t done any specialty or any residency yet. People start medical school here in Mexico when they are about 18 years old so it is not unusual for you to find a young doctor here in Mexico.
 
If you need a specialist, you will pay between $35 and $60 per office visit, if you don’t have insurance and pay out of pocket. If you have something more serious that would cause you to have to be hospitalized or you have to undergo a certain procedure, the cost would vary depending on your condition. When I do rounds or when I visit somebody in a hospital in Guadalajara (the closest large city, where there are major hospitals), I charge them my rate x 2 hours minimum because it takes me an hour to get there, and in that hour I could have seen three patients at my office.
 
My personal receipts have my pay scale printed on them so there are no surprises. However, not everybody does that.  When you get to the level of a specialist, the charge for a visit can vary substantially.  For example, a neurosurgeon may charge $57 for half an hour visit to somebody in the hospital, while an intern may charge around $40. The cost also depends on the time of day or night and if it’s a weekend or a weekday. 
 
A very standard procedure such as a colonoscopy costs between 5,000 and 7,000 pesos (about US $280 to $390). The anesthesiologist costs about 3,000 to 4,000 pesos (about $168 to $224) plus the use of the operating room or procedure room. Those prices tend to vary quite a bit. Like most doctors in the US, I recommend that these kinds of procedures be done in a hospital. You may pay around 10,000 pesos (about $560) for using the OR or procedure room in a 5-star hospital, whereas there are clinics available that do these types of diagnostic procedures where you will pay only $170 to $230 for using their facilities. There are risks or pros and cons in using these facilities, though. Being a doctor, I do recommend that you try to minimize your risks but there are some people who really focus on their pocketbook and make decisions with their pocketbook. I guess as long as they are informed of the type of risks that they are running, I am okay. A colonoscopy is a safe procedure but in case there is a complication such as a perforation of your intestine, you will have to go to a hospital. Hospitals are located in Guadalajara, which is about an hour away from Chapala. In total, you will spend about $850 to $1,000 for a colonoscopy. 
 
Overall, medical procedures in Chapala cost about 1/3 of how much it costs in Chicago (where I am from) for the same quality of care. You could pay much less but the quality of the care that you would get would be something that I, as a doctor, would not recommend. The specialists that I vetted and opt to work with tend to keep the same standards of care and quality that I have grown accustomed to in the US and that are recommended in the US. Just like any other profession, there are people who make their money on volume and they court a different type of market. Their market is those people who are looking for more bang for their buck. Obviously, the profit margin for them is a lot smaller but they make their money on the sheer volume of patients that they see. I, and the physicians that I work with, make sure that the quality and standards of care that you get are more elevated. In addition, we feel a lot more comfortable working at these fully staffed hospitals that are prepared in the event of any emergency because we will be able to best handle the emergency there. 
 
A colonoscopy can be done at around $400 (for example), whereas if you go to San Javier Hospital, which has its own facilities and a good reputation, you would spend around $560 more. My follow up visits cost about $40 to $45; I try to keep it under $50. In the US, depending on the area where the hospital or clinic is located, a follow up visit costs around $80. In downtown Chicago, you would pay above $100 for a follow up visit while in the west side of Chicago, you would pay around $50 to $60.
 
The office I practice out of here in Chapala very modern and state-of-the-art. It is a medical office building. There are other doctors who open shop in homes that have been renovated or maybe even renovate their homes in order to suit their needs. In the communities in the Chapala area, it is more common to see a doctor in an office that is in a house that has been renovated than in a medical office building, where I practice.
 
(Chicago-raised Dr. Santiago Hernandez greets an expat patient at his  state of the art office in Lake Chapala, Mexico, pictured.)
 
 

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