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Medical Tourism - Destination - Mexico

General Informations

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Mexico attracts between 150,000 and 500,000 medical tourists annually but this number cannot be exactly quantified, as Americans (accounting for an estimated 95% of inbound medical tourists) do not need a visa to enter the country. Americans are attracted by Mexico’s proximity to the US and cost savings of around 63%. Despite promotion only from the private sector, Mexico has built a reputation for offering dentistry treatment, cosmetic and plastic surgeries, orthopaedics and cardiology procedures.

Mexico
Localisation Central America, bordering Belize, United States and Guatemala
Capital Mexico City
Biggest cities (population) Mexico City (8,589,600), Guadalajara (1,797,600), Ecatepec (1,688,600)
Inhabitants 111,211,789
Politics federal republic
Religion Catholicism (76.5%), Protestantism (6.3%), atheism (3.1%), other (14.1%)
Currency Mexican Peso (MXN) = € 0.05175
GDP € 1,034,146 million, 1.8% of the world’s GDP
Official language(s) Spanish
Climate varies from tropical to desert with an average temperature of 22°C
Time zone GMT from -5 to -7, summertime GMT from -4 to -6
Happy Planet Index (HPI) 23

Cultural Aspects

General Culture

Mexicans are descendants of the Aztecs and the Mayas; therefore, their culture is extremely rich in history and tradition. The influences of those ancient inhabitants are still visible in the Mexican cuisine, architecture and general behaviour of the people but foremost in music and art. English is not widely spoken by the general population.

Mexican cuisine is a combination of native ancient foods like chocolate, peanuts, vanilla, beans, coconuts and tomatoes modernized with European foods. In addition, Mexican candy is world famous as it is made out of chocolate and chilli.

Safety

GPI is 108 as the country is highly corrupt and crime is a problem especially in the big cities. For tourists, precautions should be taken as they are likely to be targeted.

Tourists Attractions and Sights

  • Chichén Itzá: one of the Seven Wonders of the World near Cancun, a 79-foot-high massive stone calendar – 365 steps plus 52 panels on each side of the pyramid
  • Copper Canyon: remnants of a vast rail network, winding 408 miles through nature in the Northwest
  • Cabo San Lucas, El Arco: a rock outcropping at the tip of Finisterra (Land’s End) with a passage carved out by erosion from pounding waves, accessible by a water taxi
  • National Museum of Anthropology: Latin America’s largest museum in Mexico City is one of the world’s greatest anthropological repositories where even the building is a work of art
  • Templo Mayor: temple of the Aztecs, part of a much larger sacred centre of the city Tenochtitlan, dedicated to the rain god, Tlaloc, and the god of war, Huitzilopochtli

Visa Requirements

For American, Canadian, Australian, Irish and New Zealand citizens’ visa are not required for stays of up to 180 days. Other citizens need to have a valid passport and a visa in order to enter the country.

Infrastructure

Transportation

Mexico has a highway network which is one of the most extensive in Latin America, although poorly maintained because of lack of governmental funds. The railroad system is mostly used for merchandise transportation and freight; therefore, passenger transportation across the country is limited. Getting around by bus is considered the cheapest and most efficient way in and between cities. In the big cities, there is also a metro where the first two wagons are reserved for women and children.

Airports are present in every city with a population over 200,000 people. There is a total of 1,834 airports, 35 of which are international.

Accommodation

The major hotel chains such as Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Rezidor Group, NH Hoteles and Hilton Worldwide are present in Mexico. One can find accommodation in every price range and location.

There is no cooperation between hospitals and hotels. However, all the hospitals are located near hotels.

Health Care System

WHO ranking 61
Physicians per 10,000 population 20.0 (2000)
Nurses per 10,000 population 9.0 (2000)
GDP spent on health care 6.2% (2006)
Education period of doctors 5-7 years
Education period of specialists additional 5 up to 8 years

Health Care Providers

Health care providers are public and private with the public institutions being available for everyone, assured by the constitution, whereas the private ones are available for those who can afford it. In addition, there are 1,000 public and 3,000 private hospitals. The public ones account for the majority of the beds and the private hospitals have an average of 20 beds.

Insurance

Every Mexican citizen who holds a job is obliged to pay a part of the income to the health insurance together with the employer that accounts for 80%. Those who are unemployed and cannot afford insurance themselves account for 17% although they will not be refused health care service at a public hospital.

Reforms/Policies

In 2003, the government launched a new program called Seguro Popular with the goal to enrol 50 million uninsured people by 2010.

General Medical Tourism Information

Mexico received 21.4 million tourists in 2006. However, it is becoming an attractive destination for medical tourism as well, with between 150,000 and 500,000 foreign patients. The amount of 150,000 refer to registered medical tourists who use a third party facilitator, whereas the amount of 500,000 is an estimate of US citizens who do not need a visa for Mexico. The exact revenue from medical tourism is not known.

Mexico is trying to overcome its negative reputation of being involved in medical fraud. In April 2010, Monterrey hosted the first Latin American Medical Tourism Congress. In addition, the “Monterrey Healthcare City” online portal was developed in order to monitor, promote and improve the quality of the medical institutions and medical facilitators. However, there is a lack of governmental promotional effort, which mainly comes from the private sector.

Flows

The biggest and most important inbound flow is from the US (95%), mainly from the southern states. The remaining 5% are from Canada and Latin America.

Reasons

  • Cost savings: when compared to the US and the UK cost savings are 63% and 44% respectively.
  • Proximity: due to proximity to the US, many Americans go to Mexico for treatment.
  • Holiday destination: a traditional holiday location for those Americans who live near the border.

Specialisation

The main areas of medical specialisation in Mexico include:

  • Dentistry
  • Cosmetic and plastic surgery
  • Orthopaedics
  • Cardiology

Top Facilities

The top facilities have been selected using the following criteria’s, listed in order of importance: JCI Accreditation, ISQua accreditation, international orientation. In general national accreditation systems have not been taken into consideration, due to the fact that there are too many and judging them is out of the scope of this study. Jordan has four JCI accredited facilities. There are eight JCI accredited hospitals in Mexico. The selected facilities include:

  • Christus Muguerza Alta Especialidad, Monterrey
  • Hospital CIMA, Hermosillo
  • Hospital CIMA, Monterrey
  • Hospital San Jose de Monterrey, Monterrey
  • American British Cowdray Medical Centre IAP, Mexico City

SWOT

Strengths Weaknesses
  • 35 international airports
  • Well recognised holiday destination
  • Monterrey Healthcare City online portal
  • Cost saving when compared to the US (63%) and the UK (44%)
  • Proximity to the US
  • Quality is high in private clinics
  • Corrupt and dangerous country (ranking 108 on the GPI)
  • Transportation network is not well maintained
  • Negative reputation of medical fraud
  • English not spoken by the general population

Conclusion

The medical tourism promotion mainly comes from the private sector yet Mexico is renowned for being a medical tourism destination for Americans (95% of inbound medical tourists). This is due to its proximity to the US and cost savings of around 63%. Mexico welcomes between 150,000 and 500,000 medical tourists annually but this number cannot be exactly quantified, as Americans do not need a visa to enter the country.

Top Facility Chart

Mexico Christus Muguerza Alta Especialidad Hospital CIMA Hermosillo Hospital CIMA Monterrey Hospital San Jose de Monterrey American British Cowdray Medical Centre IAP
Location and website Monterrey www. christusmuguerza. com.mx Hermosillo www. cimahermosillo.com Monterrey www. cimamonterrey.com Monterrey www. international.hsj. com.mx Mexico City www.abchospital. com
Accreditations or certifications JCI, NHA JCI JCI JCI JCI
Capacity of hospital beds 200 beds 42 beds 50 beds 138 beds 200 beds
Possible for accompanying person to stay in room Yes, in suites Yes, in private rooms and suites Yes, in private rooms Yes, in private rooms Yes, in private rooms
Medical tourists > 90% is from US and Canada 5% of all patients - mainly US & Canada, few from Latin America 5% of all patients - mainly US & Canada, few from Latin America US, Canada and Latin America US, Canada and Latin America
Number of medical staff doctors/nurses 3,000 physicians 300 physicians and 134 nurses >300 physicians 200 physicians and 500 nurses 536 physicians in their network
Type of rooms available (prices) Private single rooms and suites Private single rooms and suites Private single rooms (18) and suites (30) Private single / deluxe rooms and suites Private single / deluxe rooms & suites
International patient department Yes, they organise all the arrangements Yes, they organise all the arrangements Yes, they organise all the arrangements Yes, they organise all the arrangements No, customer service organises all
Adaptations to cultures and nations Yes, in food, language and religious habits Yes, in food and religious habits Yes, in food and religious habits Yes, in food and language Yes, in food
Languages spoken by staff Spanish and English; French, Italian and German by translators Spanish and English Spanish and English Spanish and English. Translators for other languages Spanish and English
Marketing of the facility/USP State of the art technology acquired from a partnering technology company whenever there is an update Nurses are trained / retrained monthly to improve service quality, marketing in cooperation with medical tourism facilitators and participation at CIMA Nurses are trained / retrained monthly to improve service quality, marketing in cooperation with medical tourism facilitators and participation at CIMA Close affiliation to the leading medical school makes it one of the leading research centres in the country Unique futuristic design of the building. Marketing in collaboration with 'Int’l Hospital Network' in Texas
Specialisations Cardiology,orthopaedics, oncology, gynaecology, neurology, transplantation, plastic surgery and bariatric surgery Orthopaedics, cardiology, urology and gynaecology Orthopaedics, bariatric surgery, cosmetic surgery, cardiology and obesity treatments Cardiology, bariatric surgery, orthopaedics and urology Neurology, oncology, cardiology and neurology

Price Chart (in €uro)

Treatment Average Price Christus Muguerza Alta Especialidad Hospital CIMA Monterrey
Cardiac bypass 14,029 5,175 31,500
Gastric bypass 7,683 3,105 N/A
Knee replacement 7,683 N/A 10,500
Hip replacement 8,351 N/A N/A
Hip resurfacing 8,952 N/A N/A
Botox treatment 114 1,035 N/A
Breast augmentation 2,539 N/A N/A
Facelift 2,839 1,553 N/A
Liposuction 768 1,035 N/A
Dental implants 401 1,035 N/A
Rhinoplasty 2,138 1,035 N/A
Lasik eye surgery 551 N/A N/A

Note: All prices are estimates, and may vary widely from source to source depending on services included in the estimate (i.e. doctor’s fees, hospitalisation, administration costs or the patient’s age and medical history). Due to non-disclosure strategies of the various locations, it was not possible to make a clear separation between those factors. All prices given for the specific facilities have been provided by the hospitals/clinics themselves via email or telephone contact. The prices are given in Euros (€).

N/A means either that treatment are not available in the specific hospital, that a price estimation cannot be found or that the medical facility did not disclose the information. For the average prices, printed literature has been used before researching sources on the internet.