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Living Like a Local: Medical Tourism / Care

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When I used to live in the USA I was always told they had the best medical care in the world. And that you couldn’t find better medical care anywhere for any price. I believed it, didn’t questions it and paid for malpractice insurance, which is 75% or more of your medical charges.

That alone is a whole article in and of itself. I see that as a good and bad thing, good you can get “insured” medical coverage and top notch medical care. But if you think about it, if these doctors are so good, why do they need such expensive medical coverage? The answer is obvious, people push law suits and they can be expensive. It’s very easy to sue for medical reasons as low level suits get paid. But again, this is another article in itself. With all the healthcare issues in the USA and Canada, many people go without healthcare for the simple fact it’s not affordable on many levels. Naturally I’m not going to move into that. But what I am going to go into is the simple fact there is affordable, high quality medical care is available to anyone. 

 

Where you may ask? Well Mexico is one place and it’s close to North Americans! The first thing to remember is the USA and Canada are not the only countries that have doctors. And if the truth be known the medical care in the United States is rated much, much lower than Mexico and most of the industrialized world. Now this may surprise you and it’s easily proven with an internet search. If you talk with North American doctors they’ll tell you that Mexican doctors are just this side of “witch doctors” shaking rattles at you. Or that they’re dangerous or quacks. Many doctors in the states will tell you not to come back to them if you go to Mexico for medical care. They’ll tell you that they fix the mess the “Mexican” doctors leave in people’s mouths for example all the time. So they scare you into believing that it’s their way or no way.

 

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So after years of hearing this sort of self-serving fear mongering comments of the AMA types, I was afraid to get an aspirin in Mexico. But sooner or later if you live in Mexico you have to see a Dentist or Doctor. Can’t avoid it and I put it off as long as I could. I was thinking of going back to the states to get some dental work done. Nothing serious, minor stuff in fact. Then a friend of mine told me how happy he was with his Mexican Dentist, it is Mexico so I just rolled along. When he told me the cost, my jaw dropped and my eyes opened. As luck would have it, a few day later I was eating a sweet roll that had nuts. Well there were some shells in those nuts and I shattered a tooth or three. The pain was incredible and I had to go to a Dentist as soon as humanly possible.

 

This was when I met Doctora Anna, a partially English speaking Dentist that my friend Carlos told me to call. Well I went directly, she stayed late, after her normal working hours. Turns out two of the teeth could be fixed, but one had to have a crown, that was the one that was hurting. She fixed me up so I could get through the night and then return the following day. 

Doctora Anna has a nice little office and dental area. She is well versed in the science and art Dentistry and has all modern equipment. I have a tolerance to Novocain so she used something similar but stronger. To make a long story short, it took about a week for the tooth to be made and when it was attached to my damaged tooth the world was “right again”. It fit perfectly, I was a happy patient. 

 

I started to think about the cost, thinking like an American I was expecting hundreds if not a thousand dollars or more. I was pleasantly surprised the whole thing, the late office visit, the emergency treatments, the Crown, medication, everything. It was three thousand, eight hundred pesos ($3,800 pesos). That’s not even two hundred dollars! So I checked to be sure she was telling me pesos not dollars and she was talking pesos!! Not two thousand dollars as is the low end of this same procedure in the USA. I can’t speak for Canada but I know the prices are similar. One tooth, two hundred dollars verses two thousand dollars and frankly the average is over three thousand dollars. I’ve actually heard as much as five thousand dollars from some of fishing clients. So the range is wide open for North Americans, but in Mexico you don’t pay for malpractice insurance as there are no liability laws, you can’t sue! Responsibility falls on you the patient. If you get a cheap Doctor or Dentist, that was your choice. So you have to do your homework to find the best options. But it’s not like you have to search “high and low” to find competent medical care! Now if you had say two teeth, two crowns only, that would be in the neighborhood of Six thousand dollars ($6,000 usd). 

Well at this point, you open your eyes and you check yourself for what you have been taught to believe by those who are abusing you for medical care in North America. Canadians don’t have Dental Insurance as part of their nationalized health care. So you can imagine Puerto Vallarta gets a lot of what we call “Medical Tourism”. The savings from the North American medical system are staggering. If you look at the quality of the medical care available in Mexico, especially Puerto Vallarta, you can come down for a vacation, get quality medical care and have the total expenses be less than the “Medical Deductible” you’d be obligated to pay!

 

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Now we’re talking mostly about Dental Care. But Puerto Vallarta is famous for all medical care. Operations, Stem Cells, Plastic Surgery, Cancer treatments, Prescriptions and the list goes on are a fraction of the price of North America. Americans and Canadians will say that they don’t have medical coverage or insurance outside of North America and you’d be mostly correct. Emergency room visits are normally covered by medical insurance companies. But if you walk outside the Emergency Room, then your “foreign” insurance will not cover you under any circumstances. This can be a concern for people that do a lot of traveling. But there are also support systems for medical care for around the world in the form of non-North American medical insurance companies. The funny thing is you can purchase medical insurance for the whole world in North America! That’s right folks. If for example you’re under or at 65 yrs. old, you can get a great plan for under three thousand dollars a year! From American companies at that. The restrictions are, you have a deductible, nothing new there. And you can only enter Emergency rooms in Canada and the USA and be covered. The rest of the world health systems are open to you!

 

So to put this in perspective if you’re a Canadian or American you can purchase health insurance for outside the United States for very favorable rates at your local insurance providers. Now not all medical insurance is created equal, there are variables and specifics you have to decide on. But the fact you can have the security of world travel medical insurance is an options most are not aware of.

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For elderly people, there are places in Guadalajara and soon in Puerto Vallarta that will provide outstanding assisted care living for a fraction of the assisted care cost, not to mention the much higher quality, for just about what your social security check would be! Not six thousand dollars like we were paying for my mother’s care after she had a stroke that paralyzed her entire left side and left her speechless. We took my mother to an American Consulate certified assisted care living company and found the level of care, the support of daily activities that didn’t need to be paid for. The level of love and concern that was not there in the USA was quite impressive. She had a computer to communicate with her friends, many of which were passing away. For less than 25% of what we were spending in California in an average place, no additional services like being involved in any activity, getting her hair done, nails, going to the park and a hundred other services that were expensive and “a la cart”! When we took my mother to Guadalajara, we were living in Mexico, she was in “health care heaven”.  No special cost or fee’s for anything. My mother was also learning Spanish in her condition. She couldn’t talk or move her left side, but her brain was very active and she was mentally involved in what was happening in her surroundings. She eventually passed away and even that whole death process was done in a sensitive and caring way. I was pleasantly surprised and my opinion of the American health system was failing by the minute. Now I could continue with this article with many examples of how the “Medical Mafia” in the North America is just that, a mafia! 

 

Medical Tourism has turned into big business in Mexico now. Especially Puerto Vallarta, where the number of retired expats is climbing by the day. One interesting thing is the Medical Profession will be quick to point fingers at the Mexican Medical system as lacking or quackery. The simple truth is you can get treatments that are cost prohibitive or plain unavailable in the States and Canada. Stem cells is one example that your North American medical insurance will not cover as “experimental”. I’ve got news for you all, Stem Cell Technology is old technology. You can go to a walk in clinic here in PV and get Stem Cell treatments, I’ve had them! I’ve seen cancer patients take something akin to blood doping and in a matter of a few days see a completely different person. Yet once again this is not an allowed treatment in North America. So don’t be fooled or lied to. There is affordable high quality health care available to those who don’t live in North America or anywhere for that matter. 

 

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Now you may say the quality of the Doctors and Dentist are substandard. That is not the case, in fact most Mexican doctors at the primary hospitals here in PV are educated and board certified in the United States. These doctors speak English and can communicate with North Americans! These doctors recertify in Mexico to meet Mexican Medical profession requirements. So the AMA rumor that all doctors outside of the USA and Canada are less than qualified doesn’t hold water. With just a brief internet search there are many options available from Concierge types that for a fee will provide you a list of Mexican Medical professionals of every medical discipline there is! 

 

So remember, you are not a slave to the North American Medical Care providers, no matter how much they tell you that you are. 

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