Paul is a successful businessman—he runs a valet parking company—and an avid golfer; and both of these endeavors contributed to his knee problem, a meniscus tear that needed surgery. But he was frustrated by his visits to several specialists in the US, as "Not a single anesthesiologist would consider using an epidural instead of general anesthesia." Without insurance coverage, cost was also a factor, so he decided to go to Mexico where his surgery would be more affordable.
Paul chose a JCI-accredited hospital in Monterrey for his surgery, and he is pleased with his choice. “It was the price, and also when I looked at the facility and at the service component. That’s the problem with American hospitals, they have no service. They come across very sterile because of the way they have to handle things and be politically correct. The hospital I was at was very good. It seemed more sincere than the six major hospitals I’ve dealt with, doing different events as a valet parking contractor. It’s different, their whole thing, the customer service.”
Paul selected his surgeon based on his qualifications. "Qualifications were an important factor," Paul admits. "And then facilities, and how they handle things." Paul’s anesthesiologist was a graduate of the University of Texas and did his residency at Southwest Medical. After graduating from Baylor in the top 2 percent of his class, his surgeon completed additional training at St. Joseph's in Houston and at UCLA's Orthopedic Hospital, and is now one of the top orthopedists in Mexico. Paul describes his surgeon: "Very matter-of-fact, and whatever I asked he understood, and he’d make sure I completely understood everything he told me. He’s very sincere and loves what he does."
Paul made his own flight arrangements, and the hospital’s international patient department took it from there, meeting Paul at the airport, taking him to his hotel, making calls for him, accompanying him through pre-op and the surgery itself, even calling Paul’s business partner with updates on his status. The surgery went well and he was walking around Monterrey the next day. And the savings were impressive. “It was six times less than what I would have paid in the US for a meniscus tear,” Paul says. “There is no reason for a 40-minute meniscus-tear surgery to cost $30,000. I paid $6,100 for that, including airfare and hotel. I think it’s a wonderful way to have medical procedures done.”
And, six weeks later, he was able to return to his beloved game of golf. “I’d had a little bit of swelling but no pain during recovery, and you can’t even see the scars from the scope. They gave me pain meds, but I never used them for the knee.”
Paul was so impressed with his hospital in Monterrey that, when he decided he needed hand surgery, he didn’t hesitate to book it there. This time, he was in considerable pain. “It got to the point where my finger was locking down like a money clip. So they went in and snipped it and relieved it. That second trip went as well as the first one. I flew in Sunday, had the surgery Monday, and flew out Tuesday. Very personal service.”
Why should U.S. visitors choose Monterrey? “Mexico has a geographical advantage over other destinations,” says Paul. “Medical travel is limited in who’s going to want to do it. It’s not for everybody. People have to have an extremely open mind and attitude toward travel. I mean, I’ve talked to some people, even my doctor friends, and they’re like, ‘Oh, Mexico’s really dangerous right now,’ and I say, ‘Well, so is Philadelphia and so is Dallas—it depends where you hang out.’ I was escorted around, and they said, ‘If you need anything, a car, whatever, just call us the night before.’”
Medical travel is right for him, Paul concludes. “All I did was talk to the international patient department, book my surgery, and book my own airfare. Simple. Two very short flights and I was there.”
Last updated on 9 March 2013
Before Leaving the Hospital: Get All the Paperwork
Impatient to be gone, and often suffering the woozy side effects of surgery and post-operative pharmaceuticals, patients too often find themselves back at home later, missing important documents that could have more easily been obtained on site. So before you hightail it out of your hospital or clinic, be sure that you have all of your important documents.
Generally, larger hospitals provide complete medical documentation as part of the standard exit procedure. However, some smaller clinics may rely more on verbal instructions, and they are less likely to build and maintain a dossier on your case.