By: Rebekah Mullinix
Getting healthcare in Mexico can be so uncertain especially if you don’t speak the language. There are several differences to note when dealing with healthcare in Mexico:
1. Showing Proof of Unused Materials
The doctor should show you that the product being used on you (needle, bandages, etc..) is new. The needles will have a seal on them that should be unbroken.
2. You Have to Keep up With All of Your Own Records.
This is something that was a big change for me. I am used to getting lab work done and the information going into a computer system. In Mexico, you are required to hold onto all your documents. That means EKG results, X-rays, appointment notes, etc… There’s no universal computer system between different providers.
3. Pay in Cash
Healthcare in Mexico is often not expensive and they usually expect you to pay in cash. If you want to pay with a card, be sure to ask if credit cards are accepted before receiving services.
4. You May Have to Bring Items to Your Appointments.
In the USA, all you have to do is show up for an appointment, but in Mexico, you have more responsibility. For example: at my chiropractor, I had to bring cream and a ball for my treatment as well as towels to put down on the table. Your doctor will let you know what you need to bring or you can ask before your first appointment.
5. Be prepared to wait.
Using the public health system means that there might be a lot of other people there too. It could take hours to be seen, so bring a good book!
6. Prices Vary
Service prices will vary depending on many different factors such as if the facility is private or public and your location in Mexico. Public facilities will be cheaper, but you will also have to wait in a long line for the services. Smaller towns will be more expensive for tests because they will have to send the samples off to the larger cities. Be sure to shop around for the best price.
7. You Probably Don’t Need a Prescription
Almost everything is “over the counter” meaning you don’t need a prescription. I never had trouble finding the medicines I needed in the pharmacy. From pain killers to antidepressants to antibiotics, you can buy them all over the counter.
8. Learn some Spanish
Most of the healthcare workers in Mexico, I interacted with did not speak English, which was frustrating for both me and the provider. It is scary when you don’t understand what is going on with your health. I heavily relied on Google Translate during these times as well taking online Spanish lessons.
9. Health Insurance
Getting health insurance is a personal choice that each person has to make for themselves. While doctor visits and medication are very affordable, hospital visits might not be. Read about my experience with health insurance here.
10. You Don’t Necessarily Need an Appointment
Often times you can just walk in and be seen, especially at public doctors’ offices. In most of the offices I went to, I didn’t have an appointment, granted I couldn’t figure out how to call them to ask for an appointment. If you aren’t sure if you need an appointment just show up, more than likely they will be willing to see you.
Healthcare is different in every country and navigating it alone can be scary. Try to be patient with yourself, the doctors, and the system.
Read more about my personal experience with the health care system here.
Get a different perspective and read about Mike’s personal experience with medical care here.