My Mexican Health Care Experience

Soon after I moved to Mexico, I cut my thumb slicing vegetables and had to go to the local emergency room for stitches. The doctor visit, plus three stitches, cost me $5. In New York, where I’d lived before, just my taxi to the clinic would have cost me more than that.

This was my introduction to Mexico’s inexpensive health care. Though the clinic wasn’t fancy, the doctor was competent, using the same sort of equipment and following the same sort of protocols a U.S. doctor would have done. (Believe me, I was checking.)

Since then I’ve had the chance to visit other doctors and hospitals for check-ups and tests. I’ve been to slick, world-class hospitals that rival anything in the U.S. or Europe, and doctor’s offices that are more high-tech than those of my New York specialists. I’ve paid top dollar—for Mexico—in these facilities, naturally. But in Mexico, that “top dollar” usually means prices like $35 to $50 for specialist visits and under $100 for a mammogram or an overnight hospital stay, for instance.

I’ve also been treated in more modest facilities. I once needed to see a doctor when I was staying in the colonial city of Guanajuato, where I have a small house.

I got recommendations for fancy doctors in Leon, a major city of about 1.7 million people less than an hour from Guanajuato. But in the end, for convenience, I chose to go to a small clinic in Guanajuato’s historic centro, a short walk from my house.

The clinic treated walk-in patients, many of whom clearly were not wealthy. The waiting area had plastic chairs and out-of-date magazines. But the doctor, whom friends had recommended to me, was a well-traveled, middle-aged woman with a bright smile and a very professional manner. She sorted me out in no time. And her bill? Just $20.

In general, I continue to use Mexico’s high-tech hospitals and specialists for my check-ups and medical tests. But it’s comforting to know that in Mexico I have a range of options, depending on my needs. And all of it at wonderfully affordable prices.

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