Our Friend’s Visit to a Private Hospital in Mexico

First of all, don’t assume from the picture of the ambulances above that our friend faced some major medical crisis. He didn’t.

He went to the hospital seeking treatment of a chronic wrist condition that had previously been treated with cortisone injections back in the States. Yep, that’s it.

The only reason that this incident is even blog-worthy is because he sought treatment in Mexico and that’s what this whole blog is about.

We figured that some of our readers — especially those who live outside of Mexico — might be curious about the cost and quality of care that he received.

No Appointment, No Insurance

There are two healthcare systems in Mexico: public and private. Linda and I have always opted for the private due to the shorter wait times, better facilities, excellent level of care, and affordable price tag.

We were hanging out with our friend and his wife anyway, so we decided to swing by Costamed, a private hospital about 15 minutes from where we all live. If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you might remember the article about Linda getting some dental work done there.

We didn’t bother to call ahead to make an appointment because this was more of a fact-finding mission. I really didn’t expect them to be able to see him immediately — but they did.

Within 10 minutes of arriving, our friend was being seen by an orthopedist. The doctor examined his wrist and gave him a cortisone injection. Before we knew it, he was done.

Our friend classified the level of care as excellent.

So, How Much Was it?

Just like in the States, being seen by a specialist in Mexico is more expensive than seeing a general practitioner.

If our friend had been seen by a general practitioner, it would have only cost him $250 pesos ($13 USD), but due to the nature of his injury, he was told he would have to see the orthopedist, which cost $800 pesos ($42 USD).

By the way, those are the rates for local residents, which is anyone from the State of Quintana Roo.

Our friend had to show them his local driver’s license as proof. We didn’t ask how much it would have been for non-residents. Sorry, folks.

The cortisone injection costs an additional $700 pesos ($37 USD).

Grand Total: $1,500 pesos ($79 USD)*

* Based on an exchange rate of 19 MXN : 1 USD

Let’s Wrap This Up

The key to avoid paying too much for medical care, even as a local resident, is to get a price quote BEFORE being seen or accepting any recommended treatment (e.g. cortisone injection).

I was careful to do that when I slipped and busted my head open back in May. If you missed that story, you can check it out HERE.

I don’t have any medical visits planned for the near future, but if something comes up, I’ll be sure to share the experience with you folks.

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About the Author

Qroo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) to share their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

26 Comments on "Our Friend’s Visit to a Private Hospital in Mexico"

  1. Cost is usually half price if you can prove residency, or close to it. My treatment went from 800 peso to 450 after proof was shown.

    • Two members of my Mexicana familia recently had ultrasounds done – one in a storefront ultrasound center in Playa del Carmen and the other in a little medical center in Felipe Carrillo Puerto. Both ultrasounds were of the highest professionalism. I am also a new patient of a dentist clinic in Playa del Carmen. The office has more advanced equipment than my really good dentist in the U.S., the dentists are great, and the prices are low.

  2. Sharon Lesley | July 25, 2019 at 3:57 pm |

    Good tip Joe!

  3. Charles Butler | July 25, 2019 at 4:38 pm |

    We had an experience in a private hospital in the city of Cancun. My wife had a sudden drop in blood pressure, so the doctor at a resort near Porto Morelus said we had to go to the hospital. Called an ambulance to get us to the hospital he recommended(name withheld). The ambulance showed up, they were young. The EMT was able to do an IV stick in the back of the rig doing 80 Klicks, the first try. Most US hospitals can’t do that. When we arrived we went to their ER, not the best. While my wife was being treated, the EMT presented me with a detailed bill of all supplies used, and it was $695. He wanted my credit card, no problem. The hospital said that they would take care of it, so they included it in my hospital bill. Long story short, after an IV, my wife got better, and we checked out against the DR’s orders, they wanted us to spend 2 days for “observation”, we were leaving in 3 days and had an appointment with our provider in San Diego.
    At the time no money changed hands, only insurance info, they had our providers forms on file. When we got home, we got the bill from the hospital, it was for $5600. The Hospital inflated the ambulance bill from $695 to $2200.
    I think we need to get the name of the hospital you used.

    I don’t want you to think event left a bad feeling.
    We live in San Diego, and go to TJ all the time for dental work.
    Just some thoughts.

    • Qroo Paul | July 26, 2019 at 6:30 am |

      Unfortunately, stories like yours are very common here in Mexico. Emergency medical treatment for tourists can be very expensive at private hospitals. That’s why it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover those inflated costs.

  4. Wow! Just wow! I love to hear this type of stories. And the ambulances are shining and not too shabby!

  5. John OHara | July 25, 2019 at 5:08 pm |

    On another subject I recently lost my Permanent Resident card it’s a lengthy process just to replace the card can take up to 6 to 7 months to replace guard this card card it with your life

  6. John OHara | July 25, 2019 at 5:34 pm |

    While your going through process of replacement 6 to 7 months everytime you need to leave Mexico they require a special permiso for Ext and Estrada this requires 2 personal visits to immigration and 420 pesos for each trip. Caution if you enter and exit on a normal tourist visa you will lose your Permanent Residence for life

  7. My hubby had a root canal, crown, and a dental sleep apnea mouth piece all made during a 7 day trip to Cancun. Total price was $650usd. Total in the states was quoted $3200Usd.! The care was excellent, no issues what so ever, and the dentist even called us herself the day before we left to check to see if everything was good or she could check him one more time before we went home! It was actually alittle higher that normal as they had to get a oral surgeon to do his root canal, but what a great savings and great service. We now how the dentist cell phone number and use her for all our dental needs when on a trip!

  8. Mary Baxter | July 25, 2019 at 6:05 pm |

    I love this blog. Always interesting! Thank you.

  9. Wayne Miller | July 25, 2019 at 7:13 pm |

    A quick note for those readers like myself who visit but are not (YET!) residents they have a Toll Free US number listed on their website (https://costamed.com.mx/tulum-eng/) for “Medical Tourism”.I will be down soon to take delivery of my new condo in Tulum and I will be scheduling some dental work!

  10. I just had an MRI on my pelvis and abdomen to follow up on a CT scan I had done in Canada. This was done in Manzanillo and the total cost was $270.00 Canadian! This included a contrast screen as well and I had the results phoned to my Dr here within 1 hour! I am happy to say that the results were great!:)

  11. Daniel Vasquez | July 25, 2019 at 9:39 pm |

    I retired to Ajijic, Jal in 2013. My wife and I love it here. We have an internist, cardiologist and dentist that we see so we are not concerned about paying “tourist” rates. I love that all of our docs have their cell numbers on their business cards. I have MetLife of Mexico medical insurance for hospitalization, I pay all non-hospitalization costs out of pocket, which is easily affordable as has already been described. My internist will also make a house call if you are to ill too make it to his office. Think about that one for a moment.

    A retired nurse friend was treated for Stage IV colorectal cancer at a private hospital in Guadalajara. She was there for 30 days and she says that she received the best medical care that she has ever received there. She is cancer free 6 years now.

    I’m posting this so that anyone from the US who may read this understands that we do not live in a place devoid of very good medical care and facilities.

  12. Deborah S. | July 25, 2019 at 10:21 pm |

    Here in Guadalajara, specialist office visits run $700-800 for everyone, regardless of residence or residency status.

  13. Bobbi McElravey | July 26, 2019 at 9:06 am |

    I have lived a half hour out of Cabo San Lucas for 14 years. When I needed knee replacements, the excellent work I got done cost $12,000 per knee, and my Mexican insurance paid most of the bill. The quality of care was so far beyond anything I have ever experienced in 50 years of USA medicine that I now have many USA and Canadian friends coming to Cabo for their orthopedic work or at least for a quality second opinion. Dr. Javier Escamilla is the best doctor I have ever encountered anywhere, any time, as he follows the Mexican tradition of service to patients. Do yourself a favor if you need orthopedic work….take a vacation to Cabo and see Javier!

  14. Great to hear, and so close to Akumal. I recently visited the Consultorio in Akumal, behind the little pharmacy on the main road, and it cost me $40 USD just to be seen and get a prescription. He DID tell me the price before hand too. I’m sure it would have been less had I been a resident, but it still cost less than seeing a doctor in the USA. The difficult thing was finding a pharmacy that carried what I needed. THAT took about four different pharmacy visits from Puerta Adventuras to Tulum to finally find one. Just for the record, a Pharmacy called “Union”, along the main highway, south side, in Tulum, on a North East corner, had what was needed and was friendly. I will definitely keep them in mind next time I need a full service pharmacy. Thanks for your blog. I enjoy reading it and always look forward to your next one.

  15. Michael Alan Noble | July 26, 2019 at 11:33 am |

    Are you considered a local resident if you have a one year rental contract and a 4 year temporary resident card?

    • As long as you have something to show them you live in the State. If you have all that, you should go down and get a local DL.

  16. Can anyone be kind enough to share what is the best way to get health insurance in Mexico as a temporal resident? Suggestions? companies? Thank you so kindly

  17. I saw my orthopedist here in Chapala and paid 800 pesos for a cortisone shot.

  18. Bill Mayes | July 27, 2019 at 9:58 am |

    I had all my teeth crowned with top grade zirconium and spent 50 hours in dental chair – 12000 dollars Would have been 45 in US!

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