Medical Travel and Retiree Options in Mexico
Posted by Dr. Santiago Hernandez, M.D., August 14, 2013
Why are more and more Americans turning to their southern neighbour for medical treatment? The most common reason is savings. On average a patient can save around 50% on their medical bills, if they seek treatment in Mexico and some treatments are even up to 70% cheaper.
In addition to the lower rates, there are also a wide variety of treatments available including everything from plastic surgery, orthopaedic procedures, cardiac surgery, eye surgery and even orthodontic treatments. Other countries also offer affordable care, but none can be so conveniently accessed without buying a plane ticket. Many patients make the trip across the border for their treatments and return home the same day.
Although Mexico is a developing country in many aspects, but the Mexican people are certainly doing their best to make medical travel appealing to foreigners. Last year the Mexican government opened a new lane designated for medical tourist in order to facilitate a speedy entry into the country. Some hospitals even have a department just for assisting foreigners with medical and travel plans. The US embassy in Mexico even offers a list of well-qualified physicians of at least 13 different specialties, on their website and each day there are more and more websites dedicated to medical travel.
Some Americans have even taken it a step further and have decided to relocate to Mexico. According to USA Today, Mexico Social Security System offers “a health care plan with no limits, no deductibles, free medicines, tests, X-rays, eyeglasses, even dental work” for a fixed rate of around $250 dollars a year. Although the system does have its drawbacks, over-all most retirees are satisfied with the program.
Mexico even offers many attractive options for those looking for assisted living facilities for themselves or for a loved one. Such facilities offer quality care for affordable monthly rates. The tropical weather can be very agreeable for those suffering from joint and respiratory ailments. Not to mention that the Latin culture lends itself to the care of the elderly. Relatives that visit their elderly family members in Mexican nursing homes frequently comment on the warm and pleasantness of the nurses working in the facilities. More than 40,000 retirees are currently living in Mexico and the health care industry continues to grow.
If you’re thinking visiting Mexico for medical treatment or maybe even contemplating making the jump to living on the other side of the border, it would be helpful to keep some things in mind.
Although many of the Mexican health care facilities have staff that speak English, it’s recommendable for you to familiarize yourself a bit with the language, especially if your treatment or procedure will require an overnight stay or more than one visit. If Spanish just isn’t your cup of tea, then you might want to have a Spanish speaking liaison accompany you, at least on your first trip.
Also, if you would like to enroll in IMSS (the Spanish acronym for Mexican Social Security Institute), you must first obtain a residency visa. The process is not excessively complicated, but there is a certain amount paperwork and fees involved. The first step would be to investigate the requirement to see if you qualify for Mexican residency.
Medical care abroad isn’t for everyone, but if you have an open mind and are willing to adapt, it can be a great alternative to the expensive health care fees in the US.