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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Hospitals in Mexico: 10 things to know

Relocation expert Amy Jones sheds light on the painful topic of going to the ER, getting admitted to a room, and eventually getting discharged

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Faro del Mayab
Hospital Faro del Mayab opened in September 2019. Photo: Courtesy

1. Don’t get lost in translation

Seeking help at a hospital anywhere in Mexico can feel intimidating, especially if there is a language barrier. It’s likely you’ll find someone who speaks English if you ask. It may take some time. But it’s worth the wait not to have small details lost in translation. At the very least, use Google Translate and don’t be discouraged from asking questions.

2. Bring your own medical records

It takes time to obtain your medical records from back home. So keep your records with you. You’ll be in charge of all your files once you begin seeing doctors, have x-rays and blood tests, etc. The records stay with you and not the doctor on most occasions. Keep them on a flash drive and have hard copies in a binder.

3. Insurance claims

Hospitals in Mexico do not perform medical coding for foreign insurance. If a claim is not properly coded, the hospital is not paid. Sometimes, foreign insurance is accepted. Other times, the patient is required to pay out of pocket, then submit invoices and hope for reimbursement. A hospital might verify your coverage ahead of time so there aren’t any surprises.

4. Hospital costs

An ER visit runs between US$35 and US$50. Overnight, short, and even long-term stays are also significantly lower. Why? As most foreign insurance companies are not involved, there’s no middleman making money on your health issue. You are dealing with the hospital directly. When in doubt, ask the hospital upfront for their charges. 

5. A clinic might be better

Clinics offer specializations in areas such as orthopedic, bariatric, cosmetic, urology, LASIK, and even cancer treatment. And it may cost less than in a hospital. Ask your doctor to explore both options. You may also feel more comfortable in a clinic’s smaller setting, which can be similar to U.S. outpatient surgery facilities. 

6. What do they want, blood? Yes!

Here’s a concept you may not be familiar with: Resupplying the blood bank. In the event of a blood transfusion, the hospital may ask you to replace what was given to you. Any blood type will do. But don’t worry. Worst-case scenario, you can pay for the blood. Blood is in demand and expensive. 

7. Phone a friend or hire a private nurse

You’ll do well to have an advocate. This could be family, a friend, or private nurse. If they are bilingual, that’s even better. Making decisions while under medication or when coming out of surgery can create unnecessary stress. Likewise, it’s a good idea to have help for a few days after checking out of the hospital, even after simple procedures. 

8. Checking out

Have you been discharged? Not so fast! To get sprung from the hospital, you are expected to pay your bill in full even if there’s an insurance claim. Keep receipts for your insurance company. 

9. Mexican doctors rock 

Lifeinmerida.com conducted a survey of 100 expats, asking if they preferred an English-speaking Mexican doctor vs. a U.S. doctor. They unanimously agreed they prefer the Mexican doctor. Why? Patients said they didn’t feel hurried. They had more confidence the doctor cared about their well-being. They tended to be kind, informative, thorough, and knowledgeable. And most of the time, the doctor even shared their personal phone number in case there were additional questions. 

10. Medical tourism is here

Mérida is rapidly becoming a destination for foreigners who need hip and knee replacements, cosmetic surgery, dental needs, and ophthalmology. While affordability is always at the top of the list, Mérida also offers gastronomy, history, culture, and exciting day trips as a great way to recuperate from medical procedures. Additionally, there’s something about being in a beautiful location that speeds up the healing process. Concierge services are available to manage logistics, procedures, and aftercare.

Amy Jones
Amy Joneshttps://lifeinmerida.com/
Texas native Amy Jones is an expert in expat retirement and health care in Yucatán.
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