[Editor’s note: This article was written by one of our team members, Joe Jarvis.]
Walking into a hospital sounds about as much fun to me as being mugged in an alley.
And if I were to go to a US hospital, I suspect the outcome to my wallet would be about the same as getting mugged.
Instead, I opted to dip my feet into the world of medical tourism.
There’s nothing wrong with me that I know of — I’m fairly young (mid-30s) and healthy. But it’s been about ten years since I last went to the doctor, so I figured a check up wouldn’t hurt.
But I didn’t want just ANY checkup. I wanted the full 100,000 mile tune-up.
So where did I go to receive top-notch healthcare at a bargain price? Mexico!
After doing some research, I booked an appointment at a popular Mexico City hospital which caters to foreigners.
I say ‘appointment’, but it was actually more than a dozen appointments in one, everything from dental, abdominal ultrasound, blood work, and more. But everything was finished in just a few hours.
Here’s how it went.
After flying into Mexico City I arrived at the Medica Sur complex and checked into my hotel — there is a Holiday Inn in one of the several buildings on campus.
At 7am I headed into the check-up center.
My broken Spanish prompted them to assign me a translator at no extra cost, even though most of the doctors spoke perfect English anyway.
The hospital runs these check-ups extremely efficiently; there was shockingly very little down time in between appointments. I never waited for much more than ten minutes between tests and consultations.
Doctors came to get me from the central waiting room and walked me to each exam. This included:
- The typical triage where they take your blood pressure and listen to your heart and breathing with a stethoscope
- Blood draws for a very wide range of laboratory tests
- Vision check
- Audio check
- Dental x-rays and cavity check
- An ear, nose, and throat exam
- An electrocardiogram stress test
- Upper abdomen ultrasound
- Chest teleradiography
- Forearm densitometry
- Orthopedic consultation
- Nutritionist consultation
For anyone unfamiliar, a rectosigmoidoscopy is one step down from a colonoscopy. It doesn’t require anesthesia, but confirms that you don’t have colon or prostate cancer.
I probably didn’t need to do that until my 40s, but it never hurts to do an examination early.
Speaking of which, I’m specifically describing the male ‘under 40’ exam. The male ‘over 40’, and all female exams, include even more tests.
Each doctor explained what they would be doing and why. Everything was impeccably professional.
After the blood draw and proctological tests that required fasting, they served us a very nice meal.
And by 1pm, I was all done.
They meet with patients in person again within two weeks for an in-depth discussion of the results. Since I left Mexico City before that, we set up an appointment for a video call.
I paid out of pocket 23,405 pesos, or $1,196 including the English translation of the results.
The price tag at a US Mayo Clinic for that type of service is typically closer to $5,000.
What’s really interesting is that, in addition to having international accreditation, Medica Sur is also a member of the Mayo Clinic’s hospital network. So there’s a high quality medical brand that has put its seal of approval on Medica Sur.
After my appointments, I stayed on campus to explore the cafes and restaurants they have to offer. I wrote most of this article sitting in an open-air juice bar and café, across from the indoor deli and restaurant. There is a Starbucks next to that, and other restaurants throughout campus.
The whole complex feels more like a nice shopping plaza than a hospital.
Now, my larger point here is not so much to tell you about Medica Sur; we’re certainly not in the business of advertising for hospitals.
The real idea here is to highlight that you always have options… for just about everything in your life… if you expand your thinking internationally.
The world is a big place. And whether you’re looking for a better job, unique investment opportunities, quality workers for your business, a new romance, cheaper retirement, lower taxes, stronger banks, or really great medical care, there are options all over the world.
Mexico is just one of many places in the world with a thriving medical tourism industry. If you really want to see next-level medical tourism, try Thailand, where they blow the doors off service and value.
There’s also Panama, which has relaxed its regulations to allow more bleeding edge therapy options like stem cell treatment.
Panama is actually a very interesting example, because it highlights how every country has different rules regarding various therapies, drugs, and treatment options. And you can choose the country that has the right rules for you.
Going abroad for medical treatment can seem a bit scary at first if you’ve never done it before. Besides, many of us are from countries that tend to indoctrinate people from birth to be terrified of everything outside of our borders.
But I can assure you that the reality is far, far better than the mythology.
Quite ironically, in fact, most of the other patients I saw at Medica Sur were from Canada — people whose healthcare is FREE. Well, it’s funded by taxpayers anyhow.
But their system is so slow and bureaucratic that these Canadians felt it would be more efficient to fly down to Mexico and have their full health work-up conducted at Medica Sur, rather than wait months and months for the ‘free’ check-up in Canada.
If you’re nervous about medical tourism, by all means you shouldn’t travel halfway across the world for open-heart surgery your first time at it.
In my case, I went to a very nearby country and had a comprehensive checkup, just to get my feet wet.
Now that I’ve done it once, I’m totally sold on the idea and wondering “why didn’t I do this earlier?”
Now I’ve opened a door to a whole world of new options for high quality, inexpensive healthcare… which is something that might make an enormous difference in my life down the road.