Why exactly is cosmetic surgery cheaper in Mexico?

An understandable and misplaced suspicion

At some point, everyone—literally everyone—thinking about traveling to Mexico for healthcare has the same worry: Why the low cost?

It’s completely understandable. Like with any other good or service, consumers are well-advised to be suspicious of healthcare offered at prices that might seem too good to be true.

In the U.S., low-cost medical care conjures images of a doctor with a spotty reputation and less-than-impressive credentials operating at the margins of the industry: Shoddy office, aging equipment, second-rate skills.

But in Mexico, that characterization simply doesn’t apply. Not at all.

Mexico’s low healthcare costs: Not what you think

Healthcare is indeed cheaper in Mexico. There are a number of reasons for this—almost none of them having to do with the quality of care.

The most significant one is also the most obvious: Mexico is a smaller country than the U.S., with a smaller economy. The cost of living is lower, as is the price of goods and services.

If you run a medical practice, that means you spend less on equipment and supplies, staff salaries and training, office space and a myriad of other costs that you might otherwise pass on to patients in the form of higher costs.

Other factors come into play as well. In the U.S. doctors and hospitals typically negotiate with insurance companies, often successfully, for higher fees. And unlike in U.S. hospitals, where ascertaining costs in advance is a bewildering exercise, Mexican hospitals actually disclose fees and accept payment up front. No hidden facility charges, no unexpected “out-of-network” costs, no unwelcome surprises.

Doctors playing defense

Another factor: In the U.S., the fear of malpractice lawsuits forces doctors toward what is often described as “defensive medicine.” They order excessive diagnostic procedures and consultations—and of course purchase expensive malpractice insurance—that sharply drive up overall costs.

In Mexico, by contrast, disputes between doctors and patients are resolved through a nationally-mandated regime of arbitration and conciliation. Malpractice lawsuits, and by extension malpractice insurance, are virtually non-existent.

Also keep in mind that medical school tuition in Mexico is relatively inexpensive. Doctors are less likely to be servicing expensive student loans and can therefore charge patients less. And again, with the country’s far lower cost of living, doctors in Mexico can live comfortably on a more modest salary than their U.S. counterparts. Drugs are also cheaper, and often paid for or subsidized by the Mexican government.

Heading to Mexico? Choose wisely

The point is this: If you’re considering traveling to Mexico for healthcare, you’d be wrong to assume that its lower healthcare costs are automatically a reflection of quality.

Which isn’t to say that healthcare tourists shouldn’t do their due diligence. Like in any healthcare system, quality can vary dramatically from provider to provider, hospital to hospital, region to region.

The best advice for a would-be healthcare tourist is this: Find a health tourism company with a demonstrated commitment to quality. Mivera, for example, chooses its physicians with deep experience, skill and a reputation for excellence. They practice modern medicine in state-of-the-art facilities, using the latest equipment and techniques, under the same exacting standards and protocols as physicians in the U.S.

Mivera also assumes full legal and contractual responsibility for the duration of your recovery, handling any necessary follow-up treatment or revision at no expense to you. It’s just one more reassurance that, cost notwithstanding, you’re getting the very best Mexico has to offer.