If you’re a regular reader of the blog then you’re probably already aware that Linda has had a history of back problems. Since arriving in Mexico almost three years ago, she has been able to manage the pain fairly successfully by visiting a great physical therapist in Tulum every 4-6 weeks or so.
The past few weeks her back and hips have been bothering her more than usual, so we decided to make an appointment with an orthopedist in Playa del Carmen.
For those of you unfamiliar with how medical care works in Mexico, let me give you some background here. There is a public healthcare system (seguro popular and IMSS) and a private healthcare system. I’ll be talking more about the differences in the various systems, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each in future posts.
So far, our only experiences have been with the private system and each time the quality of care has been stellar. Yep, I said stellar. The best part is that the care costs far less than it would in the United States — even without insurance.
In our case, we have health insurance in Mexico but since Linda’s back issues were a preexisting condition, the insurance company won’t cover any treatment related to her back.
I’ll be addressing preexisting medical conditions and insurance options in a future post. This is why it’s a good idea to subscribe to the blog, so you’ll receive an email whenever I post something new.
One of the things that has always impressed me about the private healthcare system in Mexico is how quickly you can get in to see a doctor, even a specialist. We called Hospiten in Playa del Carmen and had an appointment to see an orthopedist that same morning.
Upon arriving at the hospital, we were concerned when we saw about five tourists in the waiting room with ankle and wrist injuries. We know they were tourists because most of them were wearing hotel bracelets.
We were concerned that our appointment would be delayed, but it wasn’t. The appointment was at 11:30 and by 11:35 we were talking to the doctor in the examination room.
The doctor performed an examination and reviewed Linda’s medical records that we brought from the U.S. The doctor was very knowledgeable, professional and had a great bedside manner. The appointment lasted about 45 minutes and we never felt rushed like we did whenever we used to see physicians in the U.S.
Since the last MRI of Linda’s spine was in 2004, the doctor recommended getting an updated one. He said that the facility in Playa del Carmen didn’t have an MRI and that we would have to go their Cancun facility to get it done.
We were able to make an appointment to get the MRI the next morning (things move fast in the private system) and we scheduled a follow-up appointment with the doctor three days after that to review the results.
Okay, I’m sure you’re wondering what this all cost, so I’ll cut to the chase.
Initial consultation with orthopedist + examination + follow-up visit: $800 pesos ($43.24 USD)
MRI of lumbar spine without dye: $9,082 pesos ($490.91 USD)
Total Actual Cost (Mexico): $534.16 USD
So, how much would this have cost in the U.S.?
Prices vary by region and facility, but I was able to use the Mayo Clinic’s online price estimator to determine what the out-of-pocket costs for the same services without insurance would be in Rochester, Minnesota:
Office visit, new patient: $415 USD (estimate in PDF)
MRI of lumbar spine without dye: $3,427 USD (estimate in PDF)
Total Estimated Cost (U.S.): $3,842 USD
Let’s Wrap This Up
Before moving to Mexico, we really didn’t know very much about the healthcare system in Mexico. We hoped for the best but were prepared for the worst. What we found was a healthcare system that has far exceeded our best expectations in terms of quality of care and cost.
By the way, I would like to add that since moving to Mexico, we have saved over $20,000 in insurance premiums that we would have paid if we had stayed in the U.S.