Healthcare Analysis - Ajijic, Lake Chapala, Mexico
An analysis of Healthcare and costs in the Ajijic, Lake Chapala area
One of the biggest concerns people have when moving to a new country, or even a new state, involves health care: the costs, quality, and accessibility.
And that concern is more than understandable because things that we have no control over happen all the time. Any variety of random situations could necessitate a hospital visit; a car accident, a fall, the flu, etc. etc. The list goes on and on. So, a prior understanding of the health care systems that exist in the country you are looking to live in is both natural and expected.
Especially to United States citizens, Mexico carries the stigma of poverty. If you intend on retiring to Mexico, that stigma might make you a little anxious about Mexico’s health care system. Fortunately, the reality is a lot more positive than you may think, which brings you that much closer to your lakeside paradise on Lake Chapala.
The first thing to note is that every sizeable Mexican city has at least one top-notch hospital. The Hospital San Antonio, which began construction in 2017, opened its doors just a few months ago. This brand new hospital stands incredibly close to the Lake Chapala area, making it an accessible option for anyone living in or near Lake Chapala.
It is a top-of-the-line hospital, offering a fully-equipped emergency room, a laboratory, three surgical theatres, radiology, mammogram, C-T Scan, and MRI equipment, as well as hemodialysis and chemotherapy treatment units, plus ten private rooms for in-patient care.
The team of professional doctors that works with HSA specializes in the following fields: cardiology, general surgery, gastroenterology, gynecology, maxillofacial surgery, nephrology, internal surgery, oncology, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, spinal surgery, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, urology, traumatology, as well as orthopedics. Like any United States hospital, the ER is open 24/7.
Hospital San Antonio has a regular staff of nearly 100 men and women, filling jobs that include nurses, orderlies, bio-medics, maintenance/janitorial crews, technicians, and administrative officials. The vast majority speak fluent English.
So, while Mexican hospitals maybe a little more scaled-down in comparison to standard United States hospitals, they are definitely not lacking in expertise or capabilities. If you need to go to a hospital, you will receive the very best care. There’s no cause for concern in terms of the quality of the health care provided.
Cost of Health Care
The first thing that begs mentioning is that, in Mexico, generally, you can expect to be paying half or less of what you’re paying for health care in the United States. This is not just pertaining to doctors and hospital visits.
Prescription drugs in Mexico cost somewhere between thirty and sixty percent less than they do in the United States. Without even getting deeper into the Mexican medical system, it is certainly looking like a good option.
The best and biggest difference between US healthcare and Mexican healthcare is that Mexican healthcare is not profit-driven. A large number of doctors still perform house visits, a practice that has died out in the United States. Further, doctors spend time with you, ensuring that you get the best treatment, regardless of money. There are a variety of insurance options, but I’m not going to get into that until later.
In the mix of government-owned hospitals and private hospitals and clinics that make up Mexico’s hospital system, treatments are generally quoted in advance. Any voluntary operations are paid upfront. This gets rid of those surprise bills dropped at the end of a hospital visit in the US, that are of a quantity so severe that they could be financially crippling. In addition to knowing exactly what you are paying for, and paying for it before treatment, cost of treatments and surgeries are about a third of the same procedures performed in the US.
To help you gain a deeper insight, I’m going to list a bunch of standard operations and how much they’ll cost you (in US dollars) in Mexico.
A routine doctor visit will cost somewhere between $20 and $30. (In the US, a routine doctor visit can cost around $200). A routine dental visit won’t cost more than $50. (This could be close to $200 in the US). Bloodwork costs somewhere between $50 and $80. (This number could range from $100 to $3,000 in the US). An X Ray costs between $20 and $30. (In the United States, X Rays can cost up to, or more than, $1,000). An MRI costs between $300 and $500. (In the US, MRIs cost around $3,000).
Clearly, and likely owing to the fact that, in Mexico, health care is not-for-profit, Mexican health services are much more affordable. This means that your money can stretch further in Mexico - and that means you get to live a little more comfortably.
Health Insurance Options
In addition to the private systems, Mexico also has a few Universal Health Care Options.
The first system is called IMSS. This option is open to those with a Temporary or Permanent Residency, providing they apply under the voluntary participation process. This option costs around $40 per month, which is definitely a solid, inexpensive option. The big problem with IMSS is that it has a multitude of exclusions. These include cancer, diabetes, heart disease, as well as addictions (drugs, alcohol, etc.). But, if you are not excluded, virtually all forms of necessary treatment, as well as any necessary prescriptions, come at no additional cost.
The second system is called Seguro Popular. The best part of this system is that it has no exclusions. It will accept anyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions or economic capacity. Seguro Popular is charged annually and will cost somewhere between 0$ and $500 a year, a price that is definitely reasonable for the level of treatment you can expect.
Your other option is to go through a private insurance company, or to cover expenses out of pocket, an option that is much more feasible in Mexico than in the US. Costs for private health insurance obviously vary, but you can expect to pay around $1,700 annually, with a deductible of $5,000.
It is understandable to have concerns about the quality of the health care system in Mexico. But, luckily, these concerns are unfounded. All that means is that you are that much closer to your heavenly, lakeside, Mexican retirement.
Director of Sales at Collins Real Estate
20 year resident and trusted realtor in the Lake Chapala area.
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