I have hesitated to write this article for a long time. I feel it is time to stand up and be counted on this issue. It was not until my husband and I got married a year ago that I had medical insurance. We still have no dental insurance. Even with insurance, the co payments for some procedures are higher than the full cost of the procedure in Mexico.
The cost of health care is a national crisis here in the US. It is tragic that insurance does not cover dental work in most cases. For 6.4 million California residents, there is no medical or dental coverage period. This figure was taken before the Obama health plan went into effect.
I went to Mexico all the years before we were married and I still do. I feel if they are going to charge 4 times more than Mexico, then I will personally take my business across the border. Many people will disagree with this article but at this point, we still have the freedom to express our views and these are mine. I have experienced excellent results going across the border for both medical and dental care. I will relate my medical care experiences so that you get some input from someone who goes to Mexico who has a choice. I have not been paid by anyone mentioned in this article. This is my opinion based on my experiences over many years.
According to reports, almost one million adults go across the border to receive both medical, dental and prescription services. 488,000 of this number are Mexican immigrants. The rest are your everyday American who grew up in this county and cannot afford care here on this side. So according to reports, I am not alone. But can you get top rated services there? That is the question that many people ask me. There are in 2010 a few insurance companies and a handful of employers who have included the ability to use Mexican health care in their health plans. They would not offer that service if it were not possible.
In 2006, I broke my ankle. Having no health care coverage at the time, I was not going to pay $1000 here for a simple break. At the time, I was convinced it was just a bad sprain. Marty wanted me in no certain terms to get it seen so I said yes but only if I went to Mexico. He was not happy at the time about my decision and reluctantly took me. Not speaking fluent Spanish but knowing a few words we drove across the border. I went into a doctors office over the border and pointed to my ankle exclaiming pain. He spoke broken English and gave us broken directions to another doctor. We actually did not find that doctor but in the process found another one. I hobbled into his office pointed to my ankle again. He spoke pretty good English as many of them do and took an x-ray. He showed us the x-ray with a very obvious crack down the ankle, put it in a cast, gave me a pair of crutches and I was out of there for under $100.00. It would have been 4 times that in US urgent care. Now if I had needed brain surgery, I certainly would not have gone this route. I have a medical background and worked for doctors years ago so it helps that I know how things should be done. I don’t remember his name but he gave me precise gruff directions not to walk on that foot, give it rest, put it up often, and not get it wet. His office was clean, he was well spoken and he wore gloves. If it had been another kind of medical condition, I would have done research first and gone by referral. By asking friends, relatives, and people at your job, you can usually find someone who uses services in Mexico.
Again in that same year, I was having some joint issues. I walked into a Rheumatology office in TJ without a appointment. She offered to see me two hours later for which we waited. She spoke English and gave me a very in depth exam. She then told me that the swelling above my ankle was coming from my spine. Since I had experienced one horrific car wreck a few years back, that made sense. When you have been involved in an accident, things never work quite the same. She prescribed a drug which I did not take. She gave me advice to put my legs up often because of the reduced circulation and to walk every day. She suggested massage therapy for the leg. She ran some lab tests which later were negative. Those lab tests would have run several hundred dollars on this side. My cost was $100 dollars. She worked with drugs not holistic medicine but she still was a good doctor. The visit was under $100 without an appointment. Here on this side, you cannot even get into a specialist without first going through a GP. He exams you, orders tests, then gives you a referral to a specialist. It is usually several months before the specialist has an opening. The price tag ends up $1000 or more without the lab tests.
Why would I take that chance? I did not feel I was taking any more risks than from this side. How much do you know about the doctor you see on this side. Just because he has a medical license does not mean he is a good doctor. How often do you see the same doctor? Most of the time, it is a different doctor every visit. It takes a lot for a doctor to be stripped of his medical license. Your doctor could have botched up several surgeries but still be in practice. You just assume because it is here in the US that you don’t have to worry. That is sadly not the case. When I was in her office, she had several patients there waiting. I asked them questions such as how long had they been coming to her and did they feel she gave them good care. All of them replied yes that they had been going to her for years. The office was clean and she had plaques on the wall from where she went to school. She was professional, very educated, the office was spotless, and she wore gloves during the procedure. I was pleased with the results. How much more do you know about the doctor who saw you this week?
US Medical Care Is Not Safer: Going to a Mexican doctor demands the same considerations as going to a American doctor. In America, surgeries are botched up all the time here. There are thousands who die yearly from medical errors in the United States. There are thousands who end up with a staph infection that they did not have upon entering the hospital. There are many incompetent physicians in the US who should have their medical license stripped and be put out of practice. That is why doctors are required to mark the limb or area to be worked on during surgery. There are many cases where the wrong limb was amputated or a sponge was left in. I just talked to a woman the other day where that happened with her husband. They were not compensated for the doctors botched surgery. These are the facts in US medical care. When you get surgery, you are taking great risks no matter what side of the border you get it on.
Due Diligence: If you have a health problem, it it your responsibility for due diligence. You need to check out the doctors education, their experience, and their reputation if possible. The problem now with health insurance plans is you never know for sure who you will see on a doctors visit. You need references if possible, someone you know who has gone to them for years. If you don’t have a reference, ask the patients sitting in the waiting room. You need to ask questions about the treatment and the procedures. You need to do your homework first. If you do not speak enough Spanish, take someone with you who does. Most people have friends who speak Spanish. You can have them ask the questions over the phone if they can’t go with you. Research the doctors name on the Internet. Often if they have a bad reputation, you will find reference to that on the net. Then after considering all of this, make your decision.