Surviving In Merida
Surviving in Merida: Hospitals and emergencies
In Merida, we are fortunate to have a number of good hospitals and clinics to choose from should an emergency arise. It is important that you have informed choices about necessities you may need from time to time when you are here and a hospital visit isn’t so far fetched. Knowing your options and where you can go should you need to is the best kind of knowledge you can have. Being prepared for anything when you are living in a new land is the key to survival.
One thing you need to understand is that in Mexico (and some other Latin countries), hospitals are designated according to levels: First, Second and Third Level Hospitals (hospitales de primer nivel, Segundo nivel, tercer nivel). While these designations are not used in the United States or Canada, these are common references in Mexico. Let’s break them down:
Tercer Nivel – A third level hospital is one that provides all the services that you would associate with a top hospital: doctors and specialists on staff, surgery facilities, recovery rooms and additional specialized treatment facilities. It is a hospital that is able to provide integrated care for whatever ails you and is usually also a teaching hospital.
Segundo Nivel – A secondary level hospital is characterized by the ability to provide surgical and recovery facilities as well as provide the services of specialists but without emergency facilities.
Primer Nivel – A first level hospital provides care for patients without serious injury, usually has testing equipment, monitoring equipment and provides first aid. After being seen at a first level hospital you might be referred to a second or third level hospital for further treatment.
As you can see, the levels have nothing to do with quality, but rather quantity and breadth of facilities and care.
Hospital and Clinic choices in the Yucatan
Whether you are going for a minor issue, elective surgery or major surgical procedures, cancer treatment or any other medical treatment, it is good to know what your options in medical care are in Merida and how things are done in Yucatan and Mexico in general. Unlike the United States, you do not necessarily have to go to a hospital for surgery. In Merida, there are about twenty different clinics that also provide surgical and recovery services. A clinic is similar to a second level hospital but usually it only provides for one specialty like cancer treatment.
You may notice that while some hospitals and clinics like Star Medica and Clinica Merida are private hospitals, many of the hospitals are subsidized by the Mexican government. Of course, private hospitals accept anyone who can pay. While some expats living in the Yucatan may have signed up for IMSS health insurance, others have either no insurance, insurance from their country of origin or expat private insurance. It’s good to know that expats living or traveling in the Yucatan are eligible for all available medical services but can be pricey. If you need care you can receive it. You are not required to have medical insurance but you need to be able to pay your bills. You will find that prices in Mexico are much less than what you would pay out of pocket for the same services back home. Medicaid, Medicare and private US medical insurance are not accepted in Mexico.
As with most things in Mexico, there is a wide range of choices. Find out where your local hospitals and clinics are and then research them to make the best choice for you should you need medical care.