Healthcare in Los Cabos
When relocating to Cabo, one of your biggest concerns is likely to be healthcare. You might wonder if medical care in Los Cabos is state of the art, how available specialists are, and how expensive medical treatment is.
My personal experience is that, in general, healthcare in Cabo is excellent. Practitioners in Mexico receive at least part of their training in the U.S. Further, to expand their education, many continue to go to the U.S. or Europe for ongoing training, ensuring specialists are up to date on the latest techniques and technologies.
Unlike Canada, in Cabo, there doesn’t seem to be what we call a General Practitioner who performs routine medical care and refers you to a specialist when required. The norm I have found is that specialists in every field of medicine actively take on new patients without another physician’s referral. To find a specialist such as an ENT or Cardiologist, initially, one needs to look no further than to friends, acquaintances, and Facebook groups like Cabo Expats. They will be quick to refer a specialist to you. Unlike the Canadian G.P. referral system, which can take months to see a specialist, once you have selected a doctor, in many instances, when you call to book an appointment, the doctor picks up the phone and schedules your appointment, usually for that day or the next. Costs for specialist consultations run about 800 – 1,200 pesos or $35 – $58 USD.
Should you need hospital care, there are several options to choose from. Cabo has local Mexican hospitals offering lower prices for hospital care to several large first-rate U.S.-like hospitals with more significant fees. I have experienced both a local hospital and a prominent U.S.-like facility. Choosing the hospital depends on your doctor, budget, and procedure type. For example, I decided to have a skin biopsy done in a local hospital and a hip replacement in a U.S.-like facility. It depends on your comfort level.
Fees for procedures and treatment are usually quoted in advance, so there are no surprise huge bills at the end, and you must pay all fees before leaving the hospital or clinic. Sometimes the hospital will ask for an admission deposit. For elective procedures, payment is generally paid up-front. If the procedure requires hospital care, you will be billed separately by the doctor and the hospital for their respective fees. Procedures or treatments performed in the clinic are billed and paid for when leaving the clinic after the treatment. My experience is that the doctor bills you for the procedure he is to perform, and all follow-up visits for that procedure are included in that fee. Procedures are usually booked very soon after an initial visit, unlike in Canada, which has long wait times for most consultations and procedures. Fees for procedures I have had performed here in Mexico are about a third of the price in the U.S.
PHARMACIES AND MEDICATIONS
Before July 2010, you could buy any medications you ask for over the counter in Mexico, including antibiotics and powerful painkillers that would only be available on prescription in the U.S. and Canada. Today, drugs like these require a doctor’s prescription before pharmacists will dispense them. Almost every non-narcotic prescribed medication you find in the U.S or Canada is available across the counter at nearly all pharmacies.
Because of the high cost of medications in the U.S. and Canada, many people buy their medicines while they are in Mexico, as prescription drugs manufactured in Mexico are about 30% to 60% less than the same drugs in the U.S. and Canada.
Pharmacies are conveniently located everywhere, and you will always be able to find one that is open.
Los Cabos is also home to several clinics specializing in Anti-Aging treatments. Treatments ranging from Botox and fillers to the latest in facial and body lasers are available at a fraction of the price you would pay at home. Clinics are sterile and provide highly trained physicians and nurses to administer treatment and aftercare.
ALTERNATIVE, PREVENTIVE AND REGENERATIVE TREATMENT
Healthcare oversight in Mexico is less restrictive and constraining than in the U.S. and Canada. Alternative treatments using stem cell therapies, ozone treatment, IV drips, and other new therapies can be found throughout Mexico. In Los Cabos, the biggest clinic specializing in this field is PRMedica, which specializes in “Preventive and Regenerative Medicine.”
MEXICAN PUBLIC HEALTHCARE FOR CITIZENS & RESIDENTS
Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or IMSS is part of Mexico’s National Healthcare system. Ex-pats with either Temporary or Permanent residency status can apply for the IMSS program. The IMSS program covers you for hospital expenses, medical care, surgery, and medication. IMSS pays you a percentage of your salary for up to one year if an accident or illness prevents you from working. To apply, you may fill out the application online or at an IMSS office. Participation costs depend on age, and costs are low and billed monthly.
Preexisting conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and addictions will prevent you from participating in the IMSS program. Other pre-existing conditions may allow participation after a waiting period. All treatment, including medications, is provided at no cost once you’ve paid your fee.
If you cannot afford the IMSS program or have a pre-existing condition, another option for participating in Mexico’s national healthcare program is Instituto del Salud para el Bienestar or INSABI. The INSABI system has its own set of rules and procedures as well as its clinics and participating hospitals, and there is no cost for treatment.
Expats holding permanent or temporary residency can receive treatment without registration or application. To receive treatment, go to an INSABI facility with your residence card.
PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE IN MEXICO
Mexico has a wide range of insurance companies that, for a monthly premium, will provide you with private health coverage. If you or a member of your immediate family are taken ill or suffer an accident, the insurance company will cover the medical fees.
How much is covered depends on what health care plan you choose to buy. The more cover you need, and the older you are, the more expensive the premiums and/or deductibles will become. Other factors such as whether you smoke or exercise regularly at a gym may also influence the price of your premiums.
Most large companies provide a health care plan as their remuneration package. If you don’t work for a company that offers health insurance, or are retired in Mexico, then a private plan is another option. You should shop for the best deal and find a plan matching your circumstances, potential needs, and budget.
Private health insurance policies are crafted to the individual situation of the person, couple, or family, and premiums depend on things like your age, term of coverage, coverages included, and the deductible you are willing to pay in the event of a claim.
WHAT WE DO FOR HEALTHCARE
My husband and I have private insurance from a US-based insurer called “In-patient Insurance.” It covers healthcare when you need to be admitted for treatment. We primarily purchased this type of coverage to ensure we have medical care in an accident or similar mishap. Outside of this coverage, we pay cash for doctor visits and medications.
OUR TOP 10 AWESOME THINGS ABOUT HEALTHCARE IN MEXICO
- No referral system to constrain
- Certified and highly experienced doctors with excellent patient safety records
- State of the art healthcare
- Doctors and caregivers have excellent English
- Doctors will give you their cell phone numbers and encourage you to contact them
- No waiting times to see doctors and specialists
- No waiting for diagnostics, testing, and procedures
- World-class facilities and equipment
- Medications are inexpensive and rarely require a prescription
- All medical, dental, and anti-aging services are affordable