In the Yucatan Peninsula in Cancun, you will find world-class medical facilities. My mother broke her shoulder a few years ago and we took her to Hospiten, which is a Spanish private hospital. We just used the emergency admitting room. There were phones on the wall, which are direct lines to Blue Cross Blue Shield and Mutual of Omaha.
My mother had an English-speaking board-certified orthopedic surgeon. Her anesthesiologist was also board-certified. However, they would charge more towards US prices. Hospiten built another hospital in Playa Del Carmen and they even have a hyperbaric chamber. The bulk of their clientele tends to be very wealthy Mexicans or tourists. Everybody from admissions, emergencies, staff, and doctors are all board-certified and they speak English. Hospiten is a high end hospital here in Mexico. My parents are both retired and Medicare doesn’t pay here in Mexico. My parents’ Medicare supplement did pay. We were out by probably a third of what the total bill was and the rest was paid for by their US insurance.
Health care in Mexico, in general, is less expensive. Merida, Mexico is one of the medical capitals of Mexico. There are five medical schools with teaching hospitals in Merida. They also do medical tourism there as well. It is literally world-class and much less expensive than it is in the US.
There are articles in the Yucatan Today, which is an English newsletter published in Merida, that every once in a while gives a case history of a person’s condition. A woman from Baltimore had to have a certain kind of surgery and for whatever reason, she didn’t have insurance in the US and it was going to cost US $37,000 there. She came down here to Mexico and had the surgery done for $6,000 and she was very pleased with the results.
Here in Valladolid (which is 100 miles to Cancun and 100 miles to Merida), there is a new regional social security hospital that was built a couple of years ago and because of that it is now starting to attract some better doctors. They are starting to also put more infrastructure into the hospital that they need such as operating suites. The joke when they first bought it here and started to renovate was that if you needed something important like medical services, you have to have somebody put you in a car and drive as fast as you could to Merida. You don’t necessarily have to do that now.
In town in Valladolid, we have a general physician, who is English-speaking. He is a board-certified orthopedic traumatist. In a town of 8,000 people you still don’t necessarily make a living just setting broken bones, so he also does general practice on the side. We became friends. I sort of have him on retainer. I have his cellphone, office, and home phone numbers. I also have his wife’s cellphone number. His wife is also a general practitioner. Any time we need him, he literally comes to my house.
Most clinic visits is 400 Mexican pesos (about US $23). When my physician comes to my house, I give him 500 pesos and if he says, “Oh no, that is not necessary.” I say, “No. I want to give you this much.” We feel very blessed in terms of medical services. I think the only worry that we have would be if we would have a major heart attack or a stroke. In that case, we would look at is being stabilized here and then quickly transferred by ambulance to Merida. We also pay for Med Jet, which I think many expats do in various countries. Using this service, if you are hospitalized and there is a certain criteria met, in terms of number of days that you were hospitalized, we could be literally “med jeted” back to the US of someplace else. We have that additional security or a safety that we built for ourselves. The downside is when you hit 80 years old, you can no longer purchase the service.
As an example, my wife had an open MRI at Star Medica Hospital, which is a major teaching hospital in Merida. When the doctor said that he wanted to have that procedure done, I started thinking about two round trip tickets to Miami, Jackson Memorial Hospital, and a couple of nights in a hotel because I was thinking it was expensive. I asked the doctor, “Would you write the prescription for that so when we go back to the US, we could have it done?” He says, “Why would you do that?” And I said, “Well, because MRIs are expensive.” He said, “Not here in Mexico.” I asked him how much a MRI would cost and he said, “You could go down to the first floor right now.” That would be the only wait, whereas in Chicago, you have to schedule this kind of procedure days or weeks in advance. My wife also had a MRI at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago a couple of years ago and it cost us $2,800, but here in Mexico, we only paid less than $300.
So from time to time when we need to have some small procedures done, we visit the clinic or get some prescription medicine, it’s minor because medical services are cheaper here. Doctors don’t earn anywhere near the kind of money they do in the US. 400 pesos (US $25) is what we pay to go see a doctor at the clinic hospital. My physician actually prefers to come to the house. When I say I’ll come to his office, he says, “Oh no, you don’t have to come to the office. I’ll come to your house today at 2 PM.”
(Hospiten in the Maya Riviera, Mexico, pictured.)