Belize versus Mahahual, Mexico Part 5 (cont.)

This post I am doing today is the Mexican side of medical and health care compared to Belize medical and health care. There is a lot of interest in medical and health for retirees trying to select a place to retire or live on the Caribbean and the tropics. Yesterday I wrote about Belize and the lack of good quality medical and health care there. As you will read in this post Mexico has the best health care in this area, and perhaps the best in Latin America.

CostaMed clinic, near port in Mahahual.

CostaMed clinic, near port in Mahahual.


One of your primary concerns when considering a move should be health care. Fortunately, you will find that, in general, health care in Mexico is very good…and in many places it is excellent. Most doctors and dentists in Mexico received at least part of their training in the U.S. (And many U.S. doctors have trained in Mexico, notably in Guadalajara.) Many of them continue to go to the U.S. or Europe for ongoing training.

Every medium to large city in Mexico has at least one first-rate hospital. And a big plus is that the cost of health care in Mexico is generally half or less what you might expect to pay in the U.S. The same goes for prescription drugs. Prescription drugs manufactured in Mexico cost, on average, about 50% less than the same drugs in the U.S. Plus, health insurance in Mexico costs much less than it does in the U.S.

Of course, the costs of medical care will vary by physician, hospital, and the gravity of your condition. On average, an office visit with a doctor—specialists included—will cost 350 to 500 pesos (about $30 to $43). A house call—yes, doctors in Mexico still make house calls—will cost about the same. Lab tests will cost about a third of what they cost in the U.S. A CAT scan often costs about 25% of what it does in the U.S. An overnight stay in a private hospital room generally costs less than $100. A visit to a dentist for teeth cleaning costs about $28.

Yes, in the major cities of Mexico, you can get good-quality medical care for serious medical conditions…including dialysis, major surgery…even live-in, 24-hour care…for a fraction of what you might pay in the USA.

The development of the healthcare system in Mexico is being carefully planned. This includes equipping hospitals with the latest in medical technology. Aside from having excellent medical practitioners and accommodating medical staff, the healthcare system of Mexico has continuously made a name for itself as one of the few countries that provide relatively affordable, quality healthcare. From medicines to medical services, everything is surprisingly just within one’s reach.

A large number of Americans travel south of the border every year to have dentistry work undertaken. If you can find a good dentist in Mexico, you can have excellent work done for a fraction of the cost as the same work would cost to have done in the USA or the UK, for example.

Mexico is awash with opticians and you should have no trouble finding someone to test your eyesight in most of Mexico’s larger towns and cities.

Most of the opticians you’ll find in Mexico are franchises which offer a complete eye-treatment service: from eye exams through to supplying glasses and contact lenses.

You will also be able to find local, independent, opticians some of which have been practicing for years and have a great deal of experience.

Pharmacies are ubiquitous across Mexico; even the small towns have one. You’ll always be able to find a 24/7 pharmacy somewhere locally in Mexico.

Before July 2010, you could buy almost any medications you ask for over the counter in Mexico—including a full range of antibiotics and powerful pain-killers that would only be available on prescription in the USA, Canada and Europe. Today, high-powered pain killers and antibiotics require a prescription from doctor before they will be dispensed by pharmacists. Contact a doctor in Mexico if you need to purchase these (now) controlled substances.

Because of the high cost of medications in the USA, many Americans are crossing the border into Mexico to buy their medicines. Some may be buying brand-names at discount prices; others may be purchasing generic brand medications.

A concept of ‘discount medications’ has gained popularity in Mexico during recent times, principally through the rise of companies like ‘Farmacias Similares’—a pharmacy franchise which offers generic drug alternatives to brand-name drugs. The issue with generic drugs on the cheap is that their precise source may be unclear.

Even brand-name medications in Mexico usually cost less (not always) than they do in the US and Europe, so buying the ‘real thing’ when you do have to take medications in Mexico may not cost you much more (your insurance policy might cover the costs anyway) and will mitigate the risks of generic or deep-discount medications.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the investment of private clinics and hospitals in Mexico, especially in areas popular with tourists and foreign residents, particularly retirees. For example, a new medical center in Merida has been receiving extremely good reviews from retirees in the area: the center was built, in part, to provide services to the increasing number of foreign retirees living in that region.

The doctors, nurses and specialist healthcare professionals working at Mexico’s private hospitals are exceptionally well trained and usually have access to the latest equipment, technologies and medicines. Although wealthy individuals still travel to the USA for some types of very specialist treatments (for example, Houston Texas is renowned for its world excellence in cancer treatments), you can expect very high levels of healthcare and attention at Mexico’s private hospitals and clinics.

My personal experiences with medical and health care has been nothing but positive. I am a diabetic and I have to take several medications each day to control my blood sugar. These prescriptions cost me about $8 USD a month, and I can get them in Mahahual, and just about every town in Mexico. They are the same as the drugs in the USA, but for about one-tenth the price I would pay in the USA.

There is a CostaMed clinic near the port in Mahahual, that I go to when I need medical attention. The doctors there all speak English and the clinic is new and first rate. The difference I have noticed about the doctors here in Mexico is they actually sit down and talk to you, and ask your questions about your lifestyle and other things that affect your health.

My doctor at CostaMed in Mahahual. Dr. Karla Velasco, speaks English well, and not bad on the eyes either.

My doctor at CostaMed in Mahahual. Dr. Karla Velasco, speaks English well, and not bad on the eyes either.

The first time I went to CostaMed for my checkup, My doctor sat me down and talked to me and inquired about my past health issues and concerns. I was not used to that, in the USA you are lucky if you can see a doctor. In the USA a doctor will see for 3 minutes and then order a batch of tests that will cost you a bunch of money. My doctor here weighed me, asked what I ate, if I bathed daily, did I smoke or drink, and other vital questions to help her determine my health status. It was a very good examination, and took almost an hour. She checked my diabetes and blood, and told me what I should eat and not eat in Mexico. In fact my check-up there was the best I have ever had, that even includes the USA.

Another thing I also like about the medical care in Mexico is, you don’t have to sit around for a couple hours, like you do in the USA, waiting on the doctor to get to you. If your appointment is for 10am, the doctor sees you at 10am, not 11 or 12, like you get all the time in the USA.

I also like the fact here in Mexico you can just drop by and see the doctor if you have a question or problem. One day as I was leaving work at the port on my bike, my ankle had swollen up and was sore, so I decided to stop by the CostaMed clinic on my way home. I would never try this in the USA, but I just walked in and told the doctor what my problem was. Well she stopped what she was doing and took care of me right then and there. The doctors and nurses seem to be a lot more helpful here than in the USA.

So if quality health and medical care is a big choice in considering where you may retire or live in future, Mexico beats Belize hands down. In fact there is no comparison, Belize has poor health care at best, in fact I got a comment on yesterday’s post about Belizean medical care from a woman who has had experience with Belize’s medical system, and she agreed with me.

Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

One thought on “Belize versus Mahahual, Mexico Part 5 (cont.)

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