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  • Writer's pictureChristian Fadi El-Khouri

9 tips for medical tourism in Mexico

Updated: Jun 3

...and other destinations for what its worth.


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Mexican flag

Last year, I gave an interview for a San Diego-based publication on medical tourism. Part of the interview was a section titled “How to be a savvy health tourist.” As many questions from U.S.-based patients looking for medical tourism in Mexico have reached me in the last months, I decided to post an excerpt of the article on the MESC blog.

Make sure to read through these tips if you are looking for medical tourism in Mexico.


When possible, choose healthcare at home

First, when it comes to seeking treatment, make sure that you actually need it. If you can find adequate treatment closer to your home, choose it. The simple fact is, in most cases, it will be less expensive. Of course, sometimes the cost of domestic treatment is so high that you have to go abroad—to Mexico, for example, which is less cost-prohibitive. Otherwise, be sure you really need to leave your country because you are leaving your family, social connections, culture, language, and a legal system that you are more or less familiar with so you can seek remedies should something go wrong. While I am a medical tourism professional, I still tend to prioritize this point as it is often left unmentioned - but it should always be your first choice if it is a viable choice to begin with.


Do your research

If you really need to travel for medical care because you cannot afford or access the treatment you need at home, then do your research. Try to contact hospitals directly. Most hospitals in Mexico have English-language websites. A hospital that is equipped to handle international patients should have an international patient service office. If they don’t, contact the general hospital administration and explain you’re an international patient exploring the possibility of treatment and have them refer you to the right person. Mexican healthcare providers are very accustomed to tending to U.S. patients. Thus, it shouldn’t be an issue to get in touch with the right people.


Ask a lot of questions

Ask every question you can think of and keep asking questions. Find out what other services the hospital provides in the event that complications arise. If somebody is unwilling to answer your question, they’re probably hiding something. I always maintain that the patient has the right to ask. Consider it a red flag of the strongest sort if your curiosity and cautiousness illicit rudeness.


Avoid facilitators 

Try not to go through a facilitator unless you have a referral from a friend or family member who can vouch for the facilitator as being trustworthy. There is nothing inherently wrong with facilitators. I myself did medical tourism facilitation for many years and still do for some close former clients. But where hospitals are equipped to handle international inquiries, it often does not add a benefit to go through a facilitator.


Keep your doctor in the loop

If you have a healthcare provider at home, stay in contact with them and seek their advice as needed. If they're willing, involve them in the process. Ask them if the treatment plan being recommended makes sense to them.


Don’t trust testimonials on websites 

Sure, some testimonials may be real but most companies will not share negative feedback. Oftentimes, too, the negative feedback you see may be fake, having been planted by a competitor. The best is a word-of-mouth endorsement from people you trust who have had firsthand experience. Judge what they do, not what they claim others have said about them.


Be wary of fixed pricing

I consider it a good sign if they only give you a quote after seeing your medical files. I say this because standard or package pricing for healthcare is nearly impossible because every patient is different. Also, one diagnosis may have multiple treatment options. The process we implemented in the past is to get the medical documents from the patient first. Then, we solicit quotes from hospitals that are specific to the patient’s medical situation. The quote might change after the patient has been examined in person, but at least you have a starting point. Keep in mind that no two patients are the same.


Look for official endorsements

One of the biggest pieces of advice I give is to look for a medical tourism service provider with an official affiliation—for example, to a healthcare travel council or department of tourism. The point here is that you want to see that there’s some official player involved. The participation or support of official bodies does not guarantee quality, but it raises the stakes for stakeholders, often inducing good behaviour.


Get a tele-consult before you leave

Always try to talk to a doctor at the hospital before you leave home. Most hospitals are willing to do a teleconsultation as a free service. Test them by asking a lot of questions. If you feel somebody is hesitant without good reason or they become rude, nervous, stressed, or annoyed because you’re asking too many questions—avoid them. Use your common sense. You are going to be facing all the stress of travelling to a new country and undergoing a medical procedure, so they need to step up and win the privilege to care for you.


Finally, ask me about medical tourism in Mexico

Hopefully, these tips provide you with an initial starting point. Should you need further assistance, feel free to get in touch on X (formerly Twitter): @cfelkhouri

Whether you are looking for medical tourism in Mexico or any other destination, I'll be happy to provide you with some pointers and words of caution.



 

Christian El-Khouri is a leading figure in the medical tourism industry, with a proven track record of success in international healthcare. He built and headed the consulting department of MESC International Patient Service, Germany's first and oldest medical tourism company. Christian leverages his extensive experience to advise hospitals, government, destinations, clinics and startups on navigating the complexities of the medical tourism industry. He covers the entire value chain in his work, advising on overall strategy, detailed processes and operations, marketing and ethical considerations of the business. Christian is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and a recognised authority on the ever-evolving medical tourism landscape, for which he has developed and implemented various strategic and operational models.

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