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A Medical Travel Mecca

Lake Chapala/Guadalajara - A Medical Travel “Mecca”

Medical TravelBy Dan Sieben 

The cost of medical services has increased dramatically over the last few decades, especially in the United States.   A heart bypass operation can cost a total of $100,000+ in the United States, while the same operation in Mexico can cost around $20,000.  This differential is similar across the entire spectrum of medical procedures-gastric bypass, plastic surgery, dental operations, hip replacement, etc.

At the same time, the high quality of medical services provided in the Guadalajara area is finally being recognized.  For example, a Guadalajara provider of heart bypass procedures has one of the lowest rates of post-operation infection-not just in Mexico, but in the entire World.

These two factors-price and quality-plus, for North Americans the nearby location of Mexico, have combined to make Guadalajara one of the preferred destinations-worldwide-for Medical Travel, defined simply as traveling from one place to another for a medical procedure.

Not only is the Guadalajara area a mecca for provision of quality medical services, but it is also one of the most popular destinations for tourism.  Ajijic, just 40 minutes south of Guadalajara has been recognized by National Geographic as having the “second best climate in the world.”  Venues for relaxation, beauty and non-strenuous activities abound.

Traveling to Lake Chapala/Guadalajara will make sense for many individuals, not only for elective, non-insurance-covered procedures such as cosmetic surgery, but also for other procedures where the cost is so high that even the deductible amount is higher than the cost in Mexico.

While people usually think of procedures like a hip replacement or breast implants when they think of “medical travel” or “medical tourism,” dental procedures are also becoming popular because of the dramatic savings.  My wife and I recently decided to have our teeth cleaned by an Ajijic-based dentist.  While doing the cleaning, the dentists identified five fillings (between the two of us) that were important to do.  We had been aware of the necessity for fillings, but frankly we were putting it off.  Our California dentist quoted over $2,000 for the five fillings.  The cost for the cleanings (the most comfortable either of us has ever had!) and the fillings?  US$150….less than 10% of our cost in the US! 

And our dentist (we now call him “our” dentist) is the first in the Lakeside area to purchase and use one of the new digital machines that “manufactures” precision teeth.  As a result, he can install a perfectly designed crown in one office visit-around two hours!  Cost?  Less than US$275!

Projections are that with the rising costs of healthcare and the current confusion with the Health Care Act in the United States, many more individuals will be traveling to this Medical Travel Mecca to save money AND have a wonderful vacation!

Dan Sieben fell in love with Latin America when he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru back in the late 1960s…and he’s been returning for business and pleasure ever since.  Dan and his wife Kay plan to sell their California home and move to Ajijic sometime in the next year or so.  He is the founder of a company recently launched to assist people in traveling to the Lake Chapala/Guadalajara area for medical and dental procedures.  You can learn about it at: 

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