Seeing a doctor? Some tips to obtain better medical care. Seeing a doctor? Take notes is one piece of advice.

Some tips to obtain better medical care

Burden is on the patient to keep track of a diagnosis and information provided

Because Mexican physicians in private practice keep few notes on their patients it places the burden on you — the patient — to remember what was said about a diagnosis, what testing was done and if any treatment was recommended.


Another common, but certainly not universal problem, is a tendency to prescribe more medication than physicians in the north. Mexican pharmaceutical companies produce far more combination drugs than in the U.S. and keeping track of the dazzling variety of names for the same drug is daunting at best.

Finally, a common challenge for many patients is understanding what the physician is thinking and why.

These shortcomings place a burden on you, the patient, to adapt or suffer the consequences. The following are ways to improve the quality of medical care you receive here and in the north.

• Ask those you know and trust to recommend a physician they trust.

• Prepare for your appointment by making notes about your problem. When did it begin? Has it been treated in the past? Are you taking any medications for this complaint or for any other reason? If you have medical records from past treatment take them to your appointment.

• Consider taking a friend, family member or patient advocate with you to serve as note-taker during the appointment.


• When the physician offers a diagnosis make sure you understand her or his reasoning.

• When medications are prescribed ask what each medication is for and ask about common side effects. If medications are particularly expensive or combine more than one drug, question the physician about less expensive, non-combination formulations.

• If diagnostic tests are ordered make sure you know what they are for and why they are needed.

After you leave your appointment it is a good idea to compare what you heard and understood with whoever accompanied you. Keep those notes on hand and accessible. They may be the only records of your care that day.

Do you have a question related to obtaining health care in Mexico? Send it to and Deborah will do her best to answer it for you.

Deborah Bickel lives in San Miguel de Allende and is the founder and principal of Be Well San Miguel patient advocacy services. She is an international health worker with a master’s degree in public health from the University of California at Berkeley and is a graduate of the Stanford University Primary Care Associate program. She has practiced medicine in the San Francisco Bay Area, Latin America and Africa.

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  • PintorEnMexico

    Yes this is a hassle, but it’s one reason why healthcare here is so much less, they don’t have to devote expensive resources to keep records. Also, don’t rely on them to initiate a follow-up visit if one is required, put it on your calendar.

  • S. Fiona

    Beware of Some Mexican Insurance Companies:



    PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE IN MEXICO I do not generally post negative comments when it comes to dealing with a company however in this case I would like to warn people about how totally unethical and inhumane Allianz Mexico is. I have had personal Health Insurance through this company for 9 years. In 9 years I NEVER had a claim. This past year the cost of the insurance increased about 30 percent. In order to keep my payments down I increased my deductible to 24,000 pesos per incident which seemed manageable. Recently I was diagnosed with Macular holes in both of my retinas and cataracts in both eyes. In order to repair the retinas it is necessary to remove the cataracts. I submitted all of the necessary paperwork through my agent to Allianz Mexico in order to be prepared for the surgical procedure. It took approximately 10 days to obtain approval for the surgery. I was told at that time they were considering it as TWO events as I have two eyes…thus 2 deductibles. I and my surgeon was told that I needed to pay the first deductible (24K) have the surgery on one eye…then pay a second deductible and have the surgery on the second eye. The night before the surgery within 12 hours of having the surgery I was told by the agent that both deductibles needed to be paid up front before any surgery (48K). I went to the surgeon’s office, he called the coordinator and stated that is not the instructions you gave last week. The coordinators response was “That was Last week, this is a different week”. So I show up the next day, psyched and prepared for the surgery, transportation, recovery assistance. I fill out all of the forms about blood transfusions, last rites, etc….only to be told by the surgeon that he had just received paperwork from the coordinator and Allianz was now considering the surgery as FOUR event for each cataract and an event for each retina. Or in other words another 48,000 prepayment of a deductible. Because I did not have 48,000 in cash in my bag I was denied surgery. Lest than an hour before the surgery. The surgeon was prepped, the anesthesiologist on hand..and the hospital operating room reserved. Needless to say now the doctor is completely frustrated and I am beyond livid. In my opinion this is unbelievably irresponsible if not unethical on the part of Allianz MEXICO.

    • David Nichols

      Insurance companies here are well known for coming up with pretextos to avoid payment.
      We manage a Beach Club here in Manzanillo, and paid property damage insurance for 12 years without a claim.
      Since it is a beach club we paid extra for hurricane coverage. After PATRICIA was done with us we had sustained more than 700,000 mxn damage…
      Payment was denied on the pretext that our loss was not hurricane damage…according to the insurance company the damage was caused by “marea alta” (high tide…!); which, of course, is not covered…

    • frankania

      Insurance, in Mexico you don’t need it. I pay cash for most services (even tho I get free IMSS service), and shop around for expensive things. I paid cash for a double cataract operation in the big eye-hospital in Mex City about 12 years ago. Costs total $1400US dollars, including ALL visits, tests, over-night stays, etc.

      • S. Fiona

        I agree….but I have had a policy with Allianz Mexico for 9 years in the case I needed a procedure that was unaffordable. My major surgery is retina repair-both eyes..the cataract is ancillary. The approximate cost is about 5000 usd. My deductible is 24,000 pesos…..My issue is that I applied for pre approval 3 weeks in advance..Verbal Authorization was given to the surgeon but it was determined…two eyes..two events…two deductibles. The surgeon even discussed it with the coordinator the evening beforehand. Within 1.5 hours of the operation..everything was in place…Allianz Mexico faxed papers to the doctor stating it was FOUR events..not TWO. I had already wired the money to cover the 48K pesos (the 2-24K) deductibles. Because I did not have an additional 48K in my wallet that I could produce within the hour…the surgery had to be canceled. The company had numerous opportunities in all of their discussions to change from two to four deductibles in advance. I just find it incredibly unethical in the way that they proceeded. But of course they knew exactly what they were doing. I live in Merida and I had seen the ONLY Allianz sanctioned Retina Specialist . I suspect they now hove not a one RETINA specialist on their list….

  • JG

    And a person making medical recommendations should be certified to practice in Mexico. The person is to post their cedula number proving so.

  • JG

    A cedula is a professional license to practice. All attorneys, doctors, architects, accountants, engineers etc must have one to legally practice. You can enter less than the persons full name to get results.

    Mexico does have certifying boards for medical specialties. The cedula is a government document that certifies that you have completed proper studies for the licensure in a medical school. Every doctor must have a cedula as a general practitioner and the doctors with specialty may have a second or even third cedula that certifies them legally for the practice of their specialty(s). How ever, that doesn´t mean that a doctor is competent in what they do or claim to be specialized at. Aside from the cedula there are certification Boards for every specialty in Mexico. This is a different kind of certification which requires not only that you have legal documents (cedula) but also requires a Board exam of knowledge and of technical skill when it applies. Board certification needs to be re-established every 3 or 4 years to ensure that specialty doctors are up to date. In order to get re-certification a specialist needs to obtain certain amount of points. Points are given for National and International congress meetings, conference attendance, publishing, teaching, and other educational or continuing education participations. Last, board certification is mandatory to work in most private hospitals and to be part of other medical associations / staff. Hence, for a patient it is very important to know if their specialist is board certified and up to date, it is the only way to fight charlatans and fraud (doctors that say they are but they aren´t).

    Boards in Mexico are known as “Consejos”, like: “Consejo Mexicano de Medicina Interna”, “Consejo Mexicano de Otorrinolaringología”, “Consejo Mexicano de Cardiología”, “Consejo Mexicano de Ortopedia”, etc….. and all databases can be accessed on line

    And, there are also expats who will indicate they are professionals but have never proven their credentials in Mexico. In Guanajuato state one must do so in Guanajuato City. Each state has similar processes. This is a requirement before one will be issued a lucrativa visa as a professional. Some will bypass both of these requirements.

  • James Smith

    Only one piece of information necessary and essential for the foreigner traveling or living in Mexico regarding the availability of medical care: DON’T GET SICK.