Medical Care in Mexico: Our Family’s Experience
Sapphire and Kevin headed back to the States last week, and on the way there, Saff started feeling sick. She had an appointment the next day to catch up on her vaccines, so he just kept the appointment.
They diagnosed her with a “virus” and said to ride it out. Her covid, strep, and flu tests were all negative. We also did a covid test at home because, well, I'm paranoid about health stuff. 🙂
Sapphire Got Sick in Mexico
She was sick on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They got home on Sunday and she rested. Monday and Tuesday she was fine. Tuesday night, she started complaining of her chest feeling heavy and she was having difficulty breathing. I frantically reached out to a friend here in Mexico to figure out WTF I was supposed to do because we don't speak enough Spanish to go to a Mexican doctor, right?
Doctors Do Home Visits
Our friend sent us the number of a doctor here in Ensenada that does home visits. At around 8 PM, I sent him a message on WhatsApp – which, it's very weird to just say “hey” to a doctor, ya know? But, I did, and he responded right away. He asked a bunch of questions, and about 10 minutes later, he sent a list of medications to get. I didn't really understand how all of that worked, so I asked.
You Can Call a Doctor on His Personal Phone
The doctor then sent me a Google map pin of the closest 24-hour pharmacy. Kevin headed there to pick up the medications, electrolyte drinks, and a pulse ox because ours got ruined in the move. The total? $37USD. Oh, and speaking of totals. How much did this consult cost us? 350 pesos (about $17.50USD), and he said if she wasn't feeling better by the next day he would come to our house. The cost? 800 pesos (about $40USD).
Doctors Charge Less and Provide More
While this was a huge relief to our wallets, it really just pissed me off when I thought about how much money we've spent on medical care in the States. Even when we had Medicaid, many of the medications weren't covered and I had to pay out of pocket. One time, Saff's inhaler wasn't covered and it was nearly $200, with a “no insurance discount” – and guess what? You can get that same inhaler here in Mexico for $8-$10USD.
Sadie's Emergency Room Visit
From start to finish, the whole emergency room visit – including a CT scan – was less than $500USD.
At the last minute, I asked for Zofran. In U.S. hospitals, that would've taken at least an hour – and they would NOT have obliged after we got this far in the discharge process. In Mexico? The answer was, “sure!” and I got the Zofran within 5 minutes, and went on my way.
Sadie's Kidney Stent Surgery
We were referred to a urologist before leaving the hospital. My appointment was the same day, less than 10 hours from the time we left the hospital. I asked how soon he could do the stent procedure. He asked if we wanted to do it that night or the next day.
WHAT?! Do you actually care enough about me being in pain, that you will schedule a procedure tonight?
Let's recap: emergency room visit, referral to a specialist, visit with a specialist, and surgery within 12 hours? You've got to be kidding me. This is not even an option for us regular folks in the US.
Apparently, that's how quickly things can move in Mexico – and it wasn't even an emergency procedure. I have waited weeks for stents in the States, yes, even after an emergency room visit.
The Doctors Care About Your Recovery
The procedure was different in many ways. The recovery care was as well. The procedure was faster and the staff was more concerned with Sadie's well-being and comfort than just getting her in and getting her out. There are some good staff members in the States but overall the level of care here was leaps and bounds from what we have experienced stateside.
We can text the doctor at any time, and he will respond almost immediately unless he's in surgery or something. We have even sent him texts in the middle of the night and he responded. IT was 11:00 pm and Sadie was in a lot of pain. I sent the doctor a WhatsApp message expecting that he would see it in the morning and respond. HE texted me back within the hour and told me what to get for Sadie. Since he was texting through Whatsapp I just had to show the pharmacist what he typed and they got it for me. When I needed a prescription for an antibiotic, he text it to us and Kevin grabbed it at the 24-hour pharmacy. When I needed new pain meds, the same thing!!
Mexico Lab Experience
I had to get a culture to make sure I didn't have an infection. I also needed bloodwork because of my thyroid levels. The culture takes about 7 days which is normal. But we got the results handed to us on the 7th day, not sent through an online portal that may be down today. Or as was the case with our doctor in the States they changed which software they were using so we didn't get the results at all.
The Doctors Actually Do Care
Sapphire did a culture as well. Kevin sent my urologist a text with her culture results and he said she has a UTI, and gave medication suggestions. There was no charge for this! He was happy to answer and help! This is so different than our experiences in the States.
Do I need medical insurance in Mexico?
You do not need medical insurance. You can opt to pay out of pocket. It is advisable to have some just in case. In Mexico, we pay for our medical services out of pocket currently. Once we have obtained temporary residency we can apply for IMSS which is the public healthcare system here. We may or may not, this depends on our circumstances at the time.
How to get medical insurance in Mexico
To get medical insurance in Mexico you either have to obtain international insurance known as travelers insurance or you have to become a temporary or permanent citizen of Mexico. Having 24-hour pharmacies and 24-hour access to doctors makes life here so much easier.
Paying out of pocket for doctors in Mexico
You can pay out of pocket here. The cost of medical care in Mexico is significantly lower than the cost in the US. According to InternationalLiving.com, the cost of healthcare in Mexico is generally half or less than what you might expect to pay in the U.S.
Medicines cost less in Mexico
We all have heard that medicines cost less south of the border, but how true is that? I have heard that even though the medicine costs less, be careful as you will not get the same quality of medicine as you will in the states. After seeing the type of care we have received here and using different medicines we have come to the conclusion that most of what you have heard is incorrect. The medicines here are just as good or better than in the U.S. The medicines are manufactured by the same big pharma that exists north of the border. The meds are the same and there are even some utilized here that you can not get in the U.S.
Mental Health Doctors in Mexico
We have seen many psychologists and psychiatrists while we were in the US and none of them were as attentive as the doctor here. The doctor asked very important questions to Micah about their mental health and their overall general health. Most psychologists only seem to be interested in prescribing a myriad of drugs without considering the side effects and potential harm those side effects can cause.
This doctor was just different he seemed to care more about what was going on in their head as well as how their body was reacting to the medicine they are currently on. The doctor evaluated thoroughly the meds Micah was on and the effects they were and were not having. He prescribed a different medicine and then scheduled an appointment for one month out to see how Micah was doing on the new meds. The doctors in the states that we have dealt with do not schedule appointments that soon. Usually, it is every 3 months and most of the time they have postponed those appointments also. We have gone 9 months without seeing a doctor after they rescheduled us 3 times. That is unacceptable in my opinion.
Medical Care in Mexico
Better care, lower cost, more thorough follow-through. The medical care in Mexico is more people-focused and not monetary gain-focused. Your insurance company makes decisions about your health care and that is not right. They are not doctors and should have no say in the amount of care or type of care you can receive. Having medical insurance is now the law in the US but to what end really? So that a person with no medical degree can decide how long your hospital stay should be? or how long your recovery time is?
Come on down south of the border and see how medicine should be practiced. Come on down and get real personalized care that you will not find in the US without paying exorbitant amounts of money. Here you get that level of care for a 5th of the price.
It is nice when someone is interested in our well-being. The doctors here seem to have a truly vested interest in making sure we are healthy. We did not get that feeling in the U.S. I (Kevin) am a veteran and I did not get that feeling with the VA or with civilian doctors.
I was told when I had to go back to work after I suffered a concussion. I worked in a prison where having your wits about you is paramount to your survival. Someone at an insurance company went against what the doctor's recommendation was and the doctor listened to them, not to me and my symptoms, but to the insurance company. I would have paid out of pocket to ensure I was 100% before returning but because the insurance company said I had to go back to work the doctor changed his recommendation. This is just one of the plethora of examples we as a family can give of money controlling the health care system in the U.S.
More Of Our Life in Mexico
Mexico Week 2
Quirky Things About Driving in Mexico
Medical Care in Mexico: Our Family's Experience