An Unscheduled Doctor’s Visit Cost Me $9.31 in Mexico — Including Medications

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All rights mine.

“We’re doing something wrong in this country,” my mom responds when I text her the total cost of my doctor’s visit and the three medications I was prescribed last night.

I’m still shaking my head at the screenshots I sent her from my currency converter app so she’d believe me.

Unscheduled non-holiday daytime visits cost $45 pesos. Sundays, holidays and evenings cost $55 pesos. That is $2.86 USD, my friends.

We went to the Similares Pharmacy nearest us. We didn’t call first, let alone make an appointment. Similares is a pharmacy that sells generic medications and often has a mascot dancing on the sidewalk out front or a windsock dancing in the parking lot.

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When we got there the doctor had already left for the night. It was after 9pm. The clinic is adjacent to the pharmacy and the pharmacist called the next nearest location with a doctor still in and gave us directions.

We got there, waited less than ten minutes and went into the doctor’s office. He was the consummate professional. He was quickly able to tell that I had a bronchial inflammation, not bronchitis.

I did not fill out nine pages of paperwork listing every medication I’ve ever taken, vaccine I’ve received or teeth I’ve had pulled since I was a child.

He asked my age, any allergies and if I had asthma or blood pressure issues.

I’m all for being thorough. But if I come in with a painful cough and maybe a fever do you really need to know which medications my parents take or all four grandparents’ comprehensive medical histories? What about siblings who’ve ever had a serious sunburn or cousins who spend too much money at Target? What about racist uncles? First song I slow-danced to in middle school?

Medical history questions about cancer, heart attacks, strokes, mental health issues or serious diseases in your immediate and extended family are absolutely critical if you’re: not breathing in the ambulance, bleeding at Urgent Care or in an overall physical with a new GP. And on that score, could my doctor friends please explain to me why there isn’t a universal medical database for the AMA? There’s no such thing as privacy anymore anyway so maybe we can all save some time and trees and not have to rewrite our own personal DSM-V every damn visit? It’s ok, I’m sure there’s a very good reason.

But if I suddenly have chest congestion, muscle fatigue and cold sweats we can just discuss the multi-symptom train that hit me. It’s intense, but it is not cause for serious concern that warrants paperwork. Comprehensive medical care can still be efficient. Even if there had been more people and we had to wait longer.

After I explained and described the freight train I felt like I was under we discussed potential causes. He took my blood pressure and temperature, read my blood oxygen levels and, of course, listened to my labored breathing with a stethoscope. Then he outlined my specific care plan for the next three-five days.

Ambroxol/clenbuterol syrup to help with bronchial congestion every eight hours, loratadine for a once-daily antihistamine and a salbutamol inhaler to be used just for emergencies. For a grand total of $124 pesos. $6.45 USD. Combine that with the cost of the visit and we’re still coming in under ten dollars.

While too many Americans are just now fully emerging from their Cinco de Mayo hangovers I didn’t celebrate the victory over the French this week, but I’m grateful I was in and out of the doctor’s office, the pharmacy and back home recuperating within an hour. This included ample time for my questions and a friendly chat about where Oregon is as we were saying thank you and goodbye.

And now, not even 24 hours later, with a comparatively clearer head and a little bit of an appetite I’m able to get back to work.

For all of those willing to die on the Scandinavian-healthcare-is-socialist hill and convinced Canadian waiting lists are too long, fine. I don’t know that I can change your minds no matter how many sources I cite. I know you think socialism is a dirty word and that universal healthcare is the death knell before we descend into unrepentant communism. But would you be willing to consider the Mexican health care system?

They’re doing better for their tourists than we are for our citizens.

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