Monday, September 22, 2014

My Medical and Dental Care in Mexico

Continuing with the theme of answering frequently asked questions, this post is about my experiences with medical and dental care in Mexico.
This friendly guy is the attention getter in front of Farmacias Similares. Farmacias Similares is the largest pharmacy chain in Latin America. Their logo is "the same but cheaper." They don't sell brand name drugs or generics, but similars which I don't understand and have never purchased.
One day I fell on the the notoriously treacherous sidewalks of La Paz and purchased this mini first aid kit at Farmacias Similares. For the peso equivalent of $1.28 American, I got cotton swabs, band-aids, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, antiseptic cream and a wad of cotton.
I chose my doctor and dentists from among those that cater to us gringos for a few reasons. First is that they and their staff speak English and my Spanish skills are still very basic, definitely not up to describing symptoms or understanding treatment options. Other considerations are the recommendations of fellow cruisers and convenient location. I could save a lot of money by using providers who aren't gringo oriented.
I have dentists in both Guaymas and Mazatlan and get my teeth cleaned every four months. The cleanings are always done by the dentist herself and include a thorough exam for about $50 American. This includes cleaning by hand followed by ultrasonic. X-rays are not routine but are done only if there is indication of a problem. Both of my dentists are gentle, compassionate and professional. One was trained in Mexico City, the other in the United States. Last year I had extensive work done on my teeth. My dentist in the States had been telling me that my old crowns and fillings needed to be replaced but the cost was astronomical. In Mexico I had 4 crowns and 3 fillings replaced, an exam and cleaning for less than $2000.
I've had a few visits to my doctor for minor issues and an office visit is slightly less than $50 American. After a few minutes in the waiting room I go straight into the exam room and the doctor is there waiting for me. It's worth repeating: The doctor is there waiting for me. That's sure different from what I experience here in Seattle where I wait first in the registration area, wait again in the doctor's waiting area and wait one more time in the exam room. My Mexican doctor explains things in detail and in terms that I can understand without talking down to me. He involves me fully in the process, respects my feelings and turns my health care into a team effort. Nothing is rushed and it seems that half an hour is my allotted time. Once we've covered my medical issue we sit and chat about his childhood in America, Mexican politics, my life on a sailboat, our families or current events.
Last fall I injured my knee and on Christmas Eve in Mazatlan I decided that it needed attention. I went to a diagnostic imaging center without an appointment or a referral and asked for an x-ray of my knee. They asked my name and phone number, which knee, and whether I wanted x-ray, scan or MRI. I opted for a scan and waited about 20 minutes for my turn. The technician was also the radiologist who explained everything he was seeing while pointing it out to me on the screen. For less than $100 and 2 hours of my time I had the scan, the diagnosis and a treatment plan as well as the films and written report (in Spanish) in hand.
The contrasts with our health care system are startling at every turn. Medical care is so much more accessible in Mexico. I have my opinions as to why but this is not that kind of a blog.


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  2. Absolutely know everybody how teeth is important in human life without teeth your life is bust and you cant enjoy with your food.

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  4. Yeah! Teeth play a vital role in our lives. I never forgot that horrible night when I had sharp tooth pain, then my friend told me about Torrance dentist and I visited there for treatment. Seriously he treated me in just few minutes and I am very much satisfied with the treatment