Orion and the Sea

Mexican Medicine

If I was to describe the medical care in Mexico with one word it would be wow.

While in La Paz I decided to get caught up on some medical visits that I let slide in the states before I left. Boy am I glad I let them slide! I have an ongoing ear saga from problems and multiple surgeries back when I was a kid. Since then I have to get my ear cleaned out once or twice a year and get checked to ensure it’s healthy. This sounds simple but it can be really expensive and difficult to start the story over each time I see a new doctor. I’ve never paid less than $100 when paying out of pocket to see an ENT and I’ve seen my insurance charged $500 for this cleaning procedure in the past (ridiculous). But it must be done to avoid serious infections and to keep my 15% hearing in that ear from going to 0%… and you’d be amazed what a difference that 15% makes. I went to see Dr. Arguel who was on the Club Cruseros list and I can honestly say that having been to probably 20 different ENTs over the years he was by far the best. My hour and half long visit was $50. While thoroughly caring for and cleaning my ear he showed me the inside of my custom-made ear canal on a screen with an internal camera (this was a first time for me) and answered questions that I’ve had since I was 10 years old. He did hearing tests and pressure tests just because he was curious and he spoke with me at length about what to do to ensure I can continue scuba diving. My second visit in which he recorded a video on DVD of the inside of my ear to give to future doctors was $15. He also threw in a bunch of earplugs, a neoprene headband to wear over my ears while diving, and he wrote me all the prescriptions (for antibiotics and such) that I needed for our medical kit to have while in remote areas. Amazing!

After that I followed his directions to the Centro de Salud and got a free tetanus vaccination because mine had lapsed a long time ago. I couldn’t have paid if I wanted to. I also filled prescriptions for 8 rounds of generic brand antibiotics and probiotics for a total of $20.

I decided to also see a dermatologist since I have already had three different basal cell skin cancers removed and I am spending more time in the sun than ever. I found one that spoke English named Dr T. He wasn’t as amazing as Dr. Arguel, but the care was better or on par with anything I’ve received in the states. A skin check was $30, during which he found three suspect spots that he decided would be prudent to laser off without doing biopsies… right then. Anesthesia and the lasering cost another $30. I was in office for a total of an hour. The price included a check-up visit the following week, but we left town before I had the chance to return.

Going to doctors generally has me feeling some mix of ripped off, time wasted, and like I’m putting them out by just showing up. I was overjoyed to find in La Paz I could receive such thorough and affordable medical care, especially while paying out of pocket. I can only hope that our medical system in the states will improve in the coming years to elicit sentiments even close to these. I am grateful that in the states we have state-of-the-art equipment and procedures that would likely be difficult to find even in the largest of Mexican cities, but we have a long way to go to making simple checkups and procedures cost effective.

Anyone want to come visit us on a medical vacation??

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