Americans and Canadians have very different motivations for traveling to Mexico for medical treatment.
Most Americans seek medical options in Mexico for economic reasons. Typically the cost of the procedure they need or want is beyond their means in the US. Most often this is because they are uninsured, under-insured (deductibles and co-pays would leave them broke) or the procedure they are seeking is not covered at all. Whatever their situation, it boils down to economics.
For Canadians it is a different matter. The more important consideration is time rather than money. While most healthcare costs for necessary treatment are actually paid by the various provincial governments, the amount of “wait time” can be considerable: months, not days.
The amount of time you must wait varies based on where you live and the service or procedure you need. Needless to say, when you are the one confined to a wheelchair awaiting hip-replacement surgery for example, there may be a sense that you are losing precious time, a chunk of your life you will never get back. Pain and disability are poor trade-offs for the economic benefit of government provided care.
Furthermore, there may be multiple “wait times” for those procedures in high demand: a wait of weeks to see a specialist, another lengthy wait for diagnostic tests, another wait of months, perhaps as much as year or more from start to finish for an essential surgery, and so on.
Canadians understandably obsess about waiting. In fact there is a 98-page document entitled “Waiting Your Turn” that gives approximate wait times to see a specialist or to schedule a procedure based on where one lives. A recent survey of Canadian doctors by the Fraser Institute reveals that, “wait times in Canada are longer than what physicians consider to be clinically reasonable,” so even doctors feel the wait times are detrimental for their patients.
Waiting is the reason many Canadians who have the resources to pay for the treatment they need simply don’t wait. In fact, approximately 40% of the visitors who come to Mexico for medical care are Canadians who have decided that life is too short to be disabled by the lack of a needed surgery. Why suffer pain and physical limitation when excellent, affordable care—including the specialists, diagnostics and surgery—is available immediately in Mexico? Why wait if you don’t have to?
Monica Rix Paxson is an expert in the field of Mexico healthcare. She is author of the English Speaker’s Guide to Medical Care in Mexico, and co-author of The English Speaker’s Guide to Doctors & Hospitals in Mexico – eBooks available for immediate download. She resides full-time in Mexico.