Medical Tourism Destinations - Mexico

Country Information

Located south of the United States border, Mexico is separated by the Pacific Ocean on the south and west and by Belize, Guatemala and the Caribbean Sea on the Southeast. Its eastern border is the Gulf of Mexico. Mexico's land mass consists of over 760,000 square miles, making it rank fifth in total area in the Americas. In terms of population, Mexico falls 11th on the list of populous countries, with its 111 million population estimate as of July 2009. Mexico comprises 31 states and Federal District and its capital is Mexico City.

Medical Tourism in Mexico

Massage by the sea

Mexico is joining Malaysia, Thailand and India as a medical tourism destination. Due to its close proximity, Americans now are traveling to their southern neighbor seeking medical treatment abroad. Due to the Mexican legal system, malpractice suits are rare, making medical operating costs lower than that in the US. There are no high malpractice insurance premiums like there are in the US. Prescription costs can be almost half the cost as compared to the US, making them more affordable for after-surgery care.

Dentistry is a popular health travel treatment in Mexico for Americans since dentists in Mexico have been reported as charging as much as one-fourth the cost compared to the United States. Dental care is easily accessible for Americans traveling abroad to Mexico, since there are thousands of Mexican dentists situated along the Mexican/US border. Plastic surgery is another popular Mexican medical tourism procedure, with prices typically costing one-third what they would cost in the US.

Dentistry and plastic surgery are not the only popular medical tourism procedures that travelers seek in Mexico. Lap band surgery, a bariatric surgery for weight loss, has been performed by Mexican surgeons for many years now. Lap band surgery only became approved in the US by the FDA in June of 2001; so many Mexican surgeons have more experience with this type of surgery than their US counterparts. Further, since bariatric surgery is considered to be an elective procedure in the US and not generally covered by many US insurance companies, Americans can have this weight loss surgery in Mexico for a fraction of the cost. Eye exams, Lasik surgery, orthopedic procedures and simple routine check-ups are also becoming popular reasons that people visit Mexico for health care.

Those that have traveled abroad to Mexico for medical care have reported that they were satisfied with their care, according to the Washington health-care advocacy group, Families U.S.A. For those surveyed, a good to excellent rating was reported by about 90 percent for those medical tourism travelers. Waiting times are practically unheard of and international patients are given private rooms for their stay. Hospital rooms in Mexico are more like spacious hotel suites, equipped with a living room area and multiple televisions.

Those that have a hospital stay in Mexico will find the quality of care is similar to that of the US, according to the World Health Organization. Although some hospitals are located in Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara, there are some medical packages that provide lodging and care nearer to the beaches. Private clinics are available close to the Mexican and US borders in cities such as Tijuana, Mexicali and Laredo. Many Mexican hospitals are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment with well-trained and experienced personnel, making them considered to be some of the best hospitals in the world for health travel abroad.

Tourist Information

Entry Requirements

Whether traveling for pleasure or medical tourism, all US citizens are required to provide a valid passport card or passport for travel into the interior of Mexico and all US citizens age 16 and older must show a valid US passport card or passport to re-enter the United States, regardless if it is by land.

Currency and Calling Code

The Mexican Peso is the monetary unit in Mexico. The Peso uses the dollar ($) and cents (ยข) signs as well as the currency code MXN. The international calling code is +52.

Travel Distance and Cost

Flights to Mexico from the US and Canada are relatively short, with most times under 5 hours if flying direct. For example, flight times to Mexico City from New York City and Los Angeles are 4.5 hours and 3.5 hours, respectively. From Toronto, Canada, the air travel time is 4 hours, while it will take 5 hours from Montreal and Vancouver. If driving, a trip from Los Angeles will take 2 hours to reach Tijuana and 4 hours to Mexicali. A driving trip from Dallas or Houston will take 10-13 hours.

Many flights from the US and Canada to Mexico are relatively inexpensive, with morning and midweek round trip being the least expensive. Peak airfares tend to be in late March through early April, June through August and days on or surrounding holiday periods. The short travel times and relatively low travel cost make medical tourism in Mexico an attractive choice.

Time Difference

Most of Mexico follows Central Standard Time, but a few areas use Mountain Standard Time (Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Nayarit, Sinaloa and Sonora) and Pacific Standard Time (Baja California Norte). Beginning in 2010, ten Mexico border cities will follow the same daylight savings time schedule as United States, which is another advantage of seeking health travel treatment abroad in Mexico.

Language

Spanish is the most significant language spoken in Mexico, but the country purports to have 63 indigenous Amerindian languages. Those that are seeking health travel can expect to experience a high rate of fluency in the Spanish and English languages.

Climate

The climate in Mexico varies depending on the winds, altitude and ocean currents, but is generally temperate to tropical. Tropical conditions with a hot humid climate are found in low-lying areas of the southern portion of Mexico and Yucatan Peninsula, while temperate weather conditions occur in higher altitudes. While most of Mexico is dry, coastal areas can receive a good deal of rainfall. During summer and fall, the risk of hurricanes is possible in the east and west coast of the country.

Sights and Attractions

Inner Harbour, Cabo San Lucas

Mexico boasts a large tourism industry due in large part to its temperate climate, diverse culture, history and beaches. The cities, ruins and beaches are the most visited attractions. United States and Canada account for the most tourist activity in the country, but tourists from Europe, Asia and Latin America also contribute to Mexico's tourism. The Tulum, Palenque Maya site, Pyramid of Kukulcan at Chichen Itza and Pyramids of Teotihuacan ruins are popular attractions in the country for those seeking history and architecture in a beautiful setting. XelHa is a natural aquarium and waterpark that offers swimming with dolphins and snorkeling, while Xcaret is a themed eco-water park that has lagoons, caves, rivers, and mountains where one can enjoy rides, snorkel and watch shows, all in a primarily natural setting. The island of Isla Mujeres is popular for day trippers looking to rent mopeds, golf carts or taxis to explore the island, eat seafood or go snorkeling. Located in the Tulum to Cancun Riviera Maya stretch, Playa del Carmen is lined with shops, restaurants and bars. It's also a place where visitors can access a ferry to Cozumel. Cancun remains a popular resort destination for those seeking beaches, resort accommodations and an all-inclusive vacation.

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