Mexico has become an increasingly popular destination for medical tourists because it offers the best value for the buck. The recent news of the deadly kidnapping of four U.S. citizens in Matamoros, Mexico, opened many discussions regarding the safety of medical tourism.
“For over 10 years of operating in different Mexican cities, we have never had any incidents or harm to any of our patients.” – Dr. Ron Elli, Ph.D., CEO of MBC.
Mexico has an excellent safety record as well as the highest success rates for weight loss surgery and cosmetics procedures. Here we will address what you need to watch out for when crossing the border to Mexico for your assurance.
Medical Travellers Checklist
It’s important to book your trip through a reputable medical tourism agency, which can provide guidance and support throughout your journey. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends,
- Work with a travel medicine provider that has someone pick you up at the airport and take you to the health center and/or hotel.
- Make sure you are going with the best of the best for quality of care to prevent complications and/or infectious diseases.
- Buy Medical Travel Insurance for extra protection against travel and surgery incidents.
Look for U.S.-owned establishments that have a well-oiled channel in place for patients. Also, thoroughly research your intended facilitator and medical facility – check for accreditation and reviews from former patients.
Safety Measures in Mexico
Mexico has much to offer foreign visitors, including rich history, colonial cities, cultural festivals, vacation spots, beaches, and medical services. Safety is a primary concern for the Mexican government, and they have taken measures to ensure that tourists are protected in the city. The Mexican government has invested in these safety measures because tourism, including medical tourism, brings millions of dollars annually to Mexico.
- One such measure is the establishment of an exclusive “medical lane” to pass patients without much wait. This lane is designed to provide quick and safe passage for those who are seeking medical attention in Tijuana.
- There is an increased police presence and the use of surveillance cameras in public spaces. Security has been reinforced in the areas where hospitals, clinics, and tourist destinations are located to protect both national and foreign visitors. These measures have helped to reduce crime and create a safer environment for tourists.
Violence against tourists is rare, with only a few cases emerging annually—no evidence supports that these crimes target Americans. Unfortunately, news outlets are using scary headlines and false news as clickbait to scare people. Cartels also have equal interests in ensuring the safety of tourists. There is an unspoken rule regarding tourists and cartels in Mexico; “Leave Americans Alone!”
It is a double standard because news outlets aren’t warning the public against traveling to New Orleans, St. Louis, Dallas, or Portland, Oregon, all of which now have murder rates higher than Mexico City.
What Areas in Mexico Are Unsafe?
According to the U.S. State Department, tourists need to avoid high-crime Mexico regions like Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Zacatecas, Colima, and Tamaulipas. These areas are considered Level 4, the highest travel advisory level by Travel.State.Gov. In the rest of Mexico, the State Department advises exercising caution and avoiding remote areas alone. You are safer as long as you stick to busy roads and well-secured touristy areas and avoid trouble. About two-thirds of Americans in El Paso going to Juarez and Nuevo Laredo are for medical purposes. The recent incident in Matamoros border city can affect medical tourism to Juárez, located in the state of Chihuahua.
Matamoros, Mexico Kidnappings
On March 3rd, it was reported that gunmen viciously attacked four Americans from South Carolina in Matamoros, Tamaulipas. LaTavia Washington McGee was accompanied by Eric Williams, Shaeed Woodard, and Zindell Brown when they crossed to Mexico south of Brownsville, Texas. They were driving a white Pacifica minivan with a North Carolina license plate.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the group entered Mexico “to buy medicine.” However, the sister of Zindell Brown told the Associated Press (AP) that LaTavia “Tay” was on her way to receive a popular plastic procedure, Tummy Tuck (TT).
The group got lost en route to their destination and went on Facebook Live before the incident. Thinking they were Haitian drug dealers, local cartel members chased them in a case of mistaken identity. Three of LaTavia’s companions were shot as they came under heavy gunfire. A local Mexican woman was also caught in the crossfire and died on the scene. The cartel then dragged all four Americans to their truck in broad daylight and took them to their hiding places.
FBI offered a $50,000 USD reward for the four abducted Americans. Mexican authorities eventually found them with the Bureau’s intervention. McGee and Williams were alive, but Woodard and Brown were dead. Eric is being treated for the gunshots to his leg.
“I am in shock at the kidnappings. Millions of U.S. citizens cross the border annually. Americans are never the target. We send our deepest condolences to the victims of the Mexico kidnappings.” – Continues Ron
The local cartel has reprimanded those who went against orders and acted on their own. They broke the unspoken rule of no harm to the tourists. The suspects have been turned in to Mexican officials.
Where is Matamoros Located?
Mexico is a big country-13th largest country in the world. Heroica Matamoros is located in the northeast part of the country in the state of Tamaulipas.
Matamoros to Tijuana: Tijuana, the first choice for destination surgery, is located northwest of Baja, on the opposite side of Mexico. The most recent Matamoros kidnapping incident is a 23-hour drive away from the business district of Tijuana.
The minute you cross the border from the San Ysidro port of entry, you are in Tijuana’s central modern business district. This area, called Zona Rio, is an upper-class end and protected neighborhood in Tijuana.
View this post on Instagram
Must Know: Plan Your Trip for a Medical Procedure
Medical tourism refers to seeking wellness treatment in a different location, usually due to unavailability or high costs in one’s place of residence. People from the US and Canada frequently travel to other countries like Mexico and Thailand to access medical services. Treatment options such patients seek include dental care, cosmetic procedures, weight loss surgeries, stem cell treatments, cancer treatments, fertility treatments, and organ transplants, while some also purchase prescription drugs. This trend of traveling for medical purposes is gaining popularity, and millions of individuals opt for medical tourism each year. Medical tourism has given consumers the power to choose and shop around – the consumerization of healthcare.
Why do People Travel Across Borders for Medical Procedures?
Individuals who go to countries like Mexico to get procedures done are frustrated with many aspects of the profit-driven U.S. healthcare system. Including,
- Astronomical healthcare costs and the lack of affordable healthcare in their home country.
- Lack of insurance, as many are uninsured or underinsured.
- Insurance providers make patients jump through hoops for coverage. Then, it continues to cause delays after a patient has met all their criteria.
- Appointment wait times. (The average wait time for bariatric surgery is five years in Canada)
- Doctors in the U.S. often rush appointments or are in and out onto the next appointments to keep up with demanding healthcare costs in America.
- Save up to 70% of the procedure cost for self-pay patients.
The Pros and Cons of Social Media
Social media has a significant influence on our lives. Global healthcare providers’ marketing on social media comes with a catch. It can be deceiving to rely on social media alone for an across-the-border doctor or facility. Going to a foreign country for a procedure has many logistics, like getting there and, of course, the procedure itself.
Chop shops are able to pose as a legitimate medical facilities on social platforms. We have seen many people fall victim to booking with surgeons that had a social media profile that looked real. These profiles will buy fake likes and followers or use fake before and after photos.
Unfortunately, many people also fall victim to the bait and switch. Surgeons will have a huge following on social media, but when patients arrive for their appointment, the surgeon’s assistant or team performs the procedure rather than the actual surgeon. When this happens, health complications are more likely to occur.
What are the signs of a good surgeon?
Outstanding qualifications and expertise. Assess every surgeon’s credentials. Choose a surgeon that is affiliated with a trusted company or hospital. Make sure they provide proof by researching reviews and talking with past patients.
What are the signs of a bad surgeon?
A surgeon’s credentials cannot be verified. They do not have a website or reviews or a way for you to get in contact with actual past patients. A surgeon only has social media profiles, i.e., Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.
Travel with Peace of Mind
Transportation and coordination are crucial factors in your trip abroad for healthcare. Exploring a new territory can be a scary task, especially when you are unfamiliar with the city. Crossing the border by foot or calling a Taxi, Uber, or Lyft in Mexico can be inconvenient and unsafe. It is also annoying to have to walk to specific pick-up points in hopes you find your driver, especially if it’s a busy area.
Finding accommodations and means of transfer on your own in a foreign country comes with a great danger.
You want to have a company with an established track record that’s there with you every step of the way. At Mexico Bariatric Center® (MBC), patient advocates are with you from when you arrive at the San Diego airport to when you depart from the San Diego airport. At MBC, we take the guesswork out of traveling to Mexico to provide an easy-breezy process.
Two cosmetic clinics in the Mexican territory of Matamoros have been shut down due to cosmetic surgery-linked fungal meningitis outbreak.
Mexico Bariatric Center has a dedicated team to make all the movements as simple as possible. Our experienced chauffeurs, who take you around, were born and raised in Tijuana. They know the ins and outs of Tijuana and how to get around.
It is important to be aware of your surroundings no matter where you are, especially in unfamiliar territory. That is why choosing a medical tourism facilitator is important—taking all of the guesswork out for you by providing you with a safety net and channel to get medical treatment.
When you shop for cheaper not-all-inclusive packages to receive treatment, the risks get exponentially higher. Mexico Bariatric Center® offers a high standard of care and takes patients to the most securest areas. You are only going to places we would go and where we take our families. Not only are you in a safe area, but the quality of care is at a gold standard.
When traveling for medical procedures, there are higher risks to the quality of care. Choose the right facility and surgeon. Not all of them are outstanding. Do your research.