I have been given the opportunity to work from Mexico for two months, I am in my third week and already I have had two medical experiences. The city I am in is called Manzanillo in the state of Colima which is about four hours away from Guadalajara. Manzanillo is, located on the Pacific Ocean and is the home of one of Mexico’s busiest ports. It is also home to some beautiful beaches! I am fortunate enough to be staying right on the beach called La Audiencia.
On my lunch break one day I decided to accompany a friend while he took his boss, an elderly woman from Texas to the dentist. I really wanted to see what a dental office in Mexico looked like! His boss and her husband came here on their honeymoon 50 years ago and decided to retire here. She told me that the decision was easy because it was beautiful and they could afford a full time caretaker (which her health requires) and maid for her.
We entered a two story building that did not have an elevator, so getting her up the stairs was a challenge. Once we entered the small but well equipped dental office there was air conditioning and two friendly dental assistants. Her appointment this day was to have a root canal. Once the procedure began she became very scared, so the dentist to my surprise starting talking to her in English and asked the assistant to hold her hand the entire time. Once the appointment was over I asked the dentist where she learned to speak English and if she had to do it often with her job. She informed me that several of her patients are retirees from the U.S. and they live here six months out of the year so she gets to practice her English often. She also told me that most of them pay in cash and then request a letter from her dental practice which is used for reimbursement in the U.S. I found this very interesting because I was hearing firsthand about people retiring abroad so they can afford the care and style of living that they need, which is a highly discussed topic in medical tourism! Overall, I was impressed with this medical experience and would have no concerns about having dental work done there myself.
My next medical experience happened when I was going to a local clinic to try and get a prescription. The wait was more than 50 people long, all packed in the waiting room with no air conditioning. It was so long I didn’t even wait I just left. I know that Mexico has social security, meaning everyone gets healthcare at some level, so I starting asking around if this was a clinic that mostly treated patients who had healthcare through social security and the answer I got was yes. There were older men and women, children and several pregnant women standing in line to be treated. I can imagine a lot of people putting off going to the doctor because of the wait and the heat. But, I still needed my prescription. After doing some research and asking around I found out that I could just go to the pharmacy and pick up the medicine I needed. I went to the local pharmacy, Farmacia Guadalajara (which I believe is a franchise) and showed them the pill bottle that I brought from the U.S.; luckily they carried the same type of medicine I needed. I paid $60 pesos which is roughly $5 USD and I was out the door! The medicine I needed was for something very common and that I didn’t really need to see a doctor for. In order for me to get that same prescription in the U.S, I have to request time off of work because no doctors’ offices are open on Saturdays, pay the $40 USD co-pay for my appointment and finally pay around $20 USD to get my prescription filled. Whether this is the right or wrong way to do things, I do not know. But I do know that this simple and common medicine that I needed was given to me quick and inexpensive!