You might remember our visit to some nearby ruins called Coba. Well, a few days after that trip we noticed Zoe had a lot of bug bites that appeared rather suddenly. She’s a bug magnet so we weren’t terribly surprised but we decided to get her in to see a dermatologist just in case. I got a recommendation to a private health clinic nearby called Hospiten, made an appointment and off we went.
The facilities rivaled any US medical facility. It was easy to find and easy to park, very clean and filled with friendly workers, most of whom seemed to speak both Spanish and English. It had beautiful marble floors and grand open foyers. It was really nice and we felt comfortable right away. The registration process was easy and we were in to see the dermatologist within about 5 minutes of arriving. We got Zoe checked out, got some names of some cream to pick up at the pharmacy and we were on our way. Grand total for the entire visit was $32 USD. As you can imagine, we were extremely pleased. We do have health insurance but only for very high level catastrophic medical issues so we always pay for these things out of pocket. The prices were about the same, if not better, than in Panama. But we were very impressed with the facilities and very pleased to have found a place for any medical issues that might come up while we live here.
Our health-related story continues last Wednesday. Around dinnertime Zoe complained bitterly of a headache and stomachache. She went to bed early but continued to feel lousy all night long. By Thursday morning she was really suffering. Severe stomach pains, headache, body aches, dizziness, nausea, she had it all. By noon I was getting a bit worried and then she asked me to take her to the doctor. You know when your kid asks you to take her to the doc, something is up. So off we went to Hospiten for another visit.
Not too long after arriving she started to feel better. We saw a pediatrician, got some meds for symptom relief and before we left the hospital she seemed to be on the road to recovery.
But here’s the interesting point of my story…. while we were there, I overhead another mom in another room who was bringing in her daughter to be seen. She was a tourist, mentioning something about her hotel. She then proceeded to call her insurance company to see if they cover treatment at that hospital. They did not, so she asked the nurse how much the visit would be in cash. The nurse replied that to be seen would be $1000 (she said dollars) and if the child had to be admitted it would be $3000. I was really surprised by this, given our $32 dermatologist visit. Zoe heard it too and said “Would you take me to the doctor if you knew it cost $3000?”. For the record I said, “Of course.”
When Zoe and I were leaving and it was time to check out I started to really wonder if I was going to need to pull out some serious cash, but they confirmed some information in our file, including our address, then gave me the bill. It was about 950 pesos (approx $50 USD). Yeah, that’s more like it. So at that point I figured that nurse had misspoken to the other lady and in fact it was between 1000 and 3000 PESOS, not dollars. Poor mom, she had already relocated to another hospital.
Later that day I had to go back to take Zoe’s stool sample for analysis and I had to wait around a bit for the lab tech to come collect it. While I was waiting, I saw a few people coming in for treatment and they were from some of the resorts in the hotel zone here in Cancun. One couple came in and while the woman was taken back to be seen, the husband was asked to put down a $1000 deposit. This was clearly dollars because I saw him take out a huge wad of cash and count it out. At this point I’m really perplexed. He even made a comment about why the cost was so high but the lady behind the desk said sweetly that she didn’t make the prices.
After handing over Zoe’s sample I needed to pay for the lab test so again they asked me some questions and this time I noticed they asked me “What hotel are you staying at?” I said I was a local and lived in a nearby neighborhood. They printed out the bill and I handed over the $4 USD listed on my receipt. (Not a typo… FOUR GREEN DOLLARS.)
So I have now come to the conclusion that any time someone sets foot in that hospital having come from a resort hotel, the price structure changes. Dramatically. Now, there’s not really any judgement here. The hospital is a private company, it’s a for-profit business, they are allowed to set whatever price they think the market will bear. They are providing a valuable service that people need but they aren’t the only ones and people have plenty of options on where to go for their medical issues. Frankly I think their prices are super-crazy for tourists but I’m happy with the local prices. So it’s just an interesting part of living like a local in a very touristy town.
You all may remember that we have a guest room and we are happy to host visitors. But now we can add value to your trip by saying we have a local address. Any doctor visits you might need while you are here will not be subject to the tourist tax. Or at least that’s what I’ve discovered. You’re welcome!
You will be happy to know that now, Sunday, Zoe is feeling quite well. She ended up not needing any medicine to treat her stomach bug and is almost back to normal. And lest you think that we are living large because everything is so cheap, allow me to show you this lovely hat made of palm leaves. Zoe asked if she could have one made for her today on the beach and she said it cost 10 pesos. That’s 52 cents. Nice and cheap! I probably should have thought about it but it’s made out of a tree leaf so I figured it should be cheap. When the guy was done making the hat I handed over 50 pesos and requested change. He told me it was 10 dollars. WHAT? For a hat made from stuff you find on the ground? Maybe I should have told him I’m not staying at a resort hotel. #toolate