Mexico: A medical tourism mecca across the border
The growing demand for medical tourism has helped thousands of health care providers emerge from all over the globe. Yet, it is the closest neighbor that dominates and that for many reasons.
“The view from my room is beautiful,” says Khan pointing out from his hospital room window. The 31-year old underinsured Texan had just had his major orthognathic surgery at the JCI-accredited CHRISTUS Muguerza Hospital in Monterrey, Mexico, at a 68% discount. Healthbase, his award-winning* dental tourism facilitator, had assured him he would be in safe hands in Monterrey and he beamingly testified so after his surgery went without a hitch.
Monterrey, nicknamed The City of the Mountains, has much more than just breathtaking landscapes to offer. The modern city booming with industries and businesses has some of the best hospitals in Mexico and in the world. “It is even considered an international hub for healthcare because of the top class hospitals it has – CHRISTUS Muguerza and Hospital CIMA Santa Engracia – to name a couple,” says CEO of Healthbase, Saroja Mohanasundaram, whose company specializes in connecting customers to world-class healthcare facilities around the globe and arranging all the logistics required for a successful medical trip.
As one would guess, Monterrey is not alone. Other Mexican cities are equally popular among medical tourists, Tijuana being another one of them. The reasons…
At a stones’ throw
Undoubtedly, the biggest advantage that Mexico has over other health travel destinations is its proximity to the US and Canada.
“Its vicinity to the United States and Canada helps cut travel time and cost which is especially important when patients are going for low-priced or outpatient treatments,” says Mohanasundaram.
“Monterrey was so close to my home in Houston that my family could visit me whenever they wanted,” says Khan.
Similarly for L. Flick, a Healthbase customer who had her bariatric surgery at Hospital Angeles in Tijuana, it meant taking a quick flight from her hometown in Colorado Springs to enter the Spanish-speaking side of the border and find first class healthcare.
“Now even those who are uninsured and underinsured or those who have been waiting year after year for treatment can take refuge in the fact that there is affordable care accessible right next door that is comparable or superior to what is available at home,” adds Mohanasundaram.
Bargain deals on bariatric, dental, cosmetic, orthopedic and other medical procedures
Mexico has always been a preferred destination for Americans and Canadians seeking affordable or quick access to dental care. Today, with the cost of healthcare climbing northwards, Americans are heading down southwards, making Mexico a rising star of the medical travel industry for not just dental but all sorts of low-priced and high-priced surgical and non-surgical treatments as well.
“Bariatric, dental, cosmetic, orthopedic and ophthalmologic procedures are the most common procedures sought by our customers in Mexico,” says Saroja.
And obviously so, because a lap band procedure tagged at $24,000 in the US goes for $8,000 in Mexico; a knee replacement costing $35,000 in the US can be had in Mexico for a third of that price; and a gall bladder removal surgery marked at $18,000 here can be had at a discounted rate of $5,000 across the border.**
Kathy Ives, a Healthbase customer who had her dental implants in Mexico offers, “I was devastated about my teeth earlier. But now I am excited to have got implants at a reasonable price and quality.”
Exceptional quality of care
“The hospital was very clean. From the time of admission to discharge everything was great. The nursing staff was exceptional,” comments Stacy Tindall, who had her lap band surgery at CHRISTUS Muguerza hospital, facilitated by Healthbase.
Khan agrees with her and says, “The staff here is top notch and the hospital practices are on par with what I am used to in the USA.”
“I was very happy with the quality of care that the people at the hospital afforded me,” remarks Margaret Byler who got assistance from Healthbase for her laparoscopic gall bladder removal surgery at Hospital Angeles in Tijuana.
“It’s common for the doctors at our partner healthcare providers in Mexico to have education from top universities like Harvard University and Stanford University, and training from prestigious institutes like Johns Hopkins Hospital, Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic. They use the latest and the greatest medical techniques available, with some of them, for instance, having as many as 6,000 or more laparoscopic surgeries under their belt,” offers Saroja.
But the problem here is sifting the good from the bad.
When seeking healthcare in your own town you have the luxury of going and inspecting the facility yourself. You might even personally know the doctors and the nurses working there or have friends and family who have used their service. However, when it comes to seeking care outside of your country, you have only the virtual e-world to rely on.
With the barrage of websites and information that the consumer is subjected to, often times it becomes difficult for them to differentiate between the good and the not-so-good provider. What is important here is to not be swayed by the seller’s sales pitch.
“You must do a thorough research in terms of doing a background check about the healthcare provider – facilities, staff, technology, equipments, service quality, previous patients, success rate, cost, and so on,” suggests Saroja.
Mexico is teeming with healthcare providers of all sizes, varieties and qualities. But, not all of them are capable of catering to Americans and Canadians. “We make sure that the partners we bring on board can handle international patients and provide the high quality of service and care that our customers are used to,” says Saroja.
A Recreation Haven
Mexico has one of the largest tourism industries in the world and as such there is no shortage of recreational activities in the country. From historical sites to modern city destinations, and from beaches to mountains and canyons and desert, Mexico has it all for the hungry tourist.
For the medical tourist, however, tourism should take a back seat.
“We tell our customers going to Mexico to bring their camera along. And though we do offer travel and tourism services, we always advise them to consult their doctor first because many a times tourism activities may not be suitable for their condition and treatment,” notes Saroja.
Often medical travelers spend their recuperation time in luxurious resorts and hotels, which compared to the US and Canada, are quite affordable in Mexico.
In the Future
With all these reasons working in favor of Mexico, the country will continue to have a successful and thriving medical tourism industry.
* Healthbase was awarded the “Best Website for Accessing International Medical Information by Patients / Consumers” by Consumer Health World, 2007.
** The prices listed may vary depending on the hospital, location, currency value, and other factors.
Awarded the best medical tourism website of 2007, Healthbase strives to provide alternatives to costly medical care and dental care. Healthbase arranges first-class no-wait health treatment for patients at leading internationally-accredited medical and dental facilities in India, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, Turkey, Hungary, Belgium, Costa Rica, Panama and Mexico, and expanding to Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Cost of care at Healthbase’s partner hospitals is a fraction of that found in the US with equal or superior outcomes. At Healthbase.com, patients can arrange treatment, travel, and accommodation without ever leaving home. Healthbase caters to the needs of individual consumers, self-insured businesses, insurance carriers and third party administrators seeking affordable medical travel and dental travel options. For more information, visit www.Healthbase.com.