I live in Mexico, about an hour and twenty minutes south of the border with San Diego, CA.
I use two US medical systems, private healthcare and the Veterans Administration Healthcare System (VA). I also use the Mexico medical system, basically paying up front to see a doctor out of pocket.
On average, it takes me at least two (2) months to get an appointment with either my US primary care physician or a US medical specialist such as a rheumatologist. It usually takes me longer than that to see a doctor at the VA, and it’s next to impossible to see a specialist at the VA unless some lab report comes back with a major red flag or you’re near death. 🙂
Since I’m on Medicare due to being disabled, I’ve been using what they call the Medicare Advantage Program for the last five years. That program is basically an HMO type process that does have some perks, but also has a lot of downsides. My co-pay for seeing my primary care physician is $15.00 and if I’m referred to see a specialist such as a rheumatologist my co-pay is $35.00.
Over the last sixteen years, I’ve been seeing a lot of neurologists for what I thought I had, Multiple Sclerosis (MS). In October, I figured out that I probably have primary Lupus and secondary Sjogren’s Syndrome and subsequently I’ve seen two rheumatologists, one in the US and one in Mexico.
They have differing opinions from one another. The US doctor brushed me off as not being ill with anything and the Mexican doctor determined that I probably do have primary Lupus and secondary Sjogren’s Syndrome. My lab tests are the issue. I saw them both twice, a total of thirty-five (35) minutes with the US doctor, and a total of five (5) hours with the Mexican doctor.
I’m a big believer in second and third opinions, so I decided to see a third rheumatologist to get an additional opinion.
I found what appears to be a really knowledgeable rheumatologist in Tijuana, Mexico at a very prestigious private hospital. I did a lot of research on this individual, and it’s impressive.
The title of this post is “How long does it take you to get a doctor’s appointment?” I should have added, “How much does it cost you to finally see that doctor?”
I called the office of the Tijuana rheumatologist this morning and asked to make an appointment. The receptionist asked me when would I like to come in and my response was “next week.”
My appointment with this doctor is at 11:30 AM this coming Monday, January 4th.
I suspect the fee to see this doctor the first time will be the usual which is mandated by the federal government of Mexico. The usual fee for the first visit is $700 MXN pesos and subsequent visits are $500 MXN pesos.
At this very moment in time with the US dollar to Mexican peso exchange rate, that equates to $41.00 for the first visit and $30.00 for the second visit.
The co-pay for the US rheumatologist was $35.00 times two which equals $70.00, and that was for a total of thirty-five (35) minutes of not much help nor advice.
Oops! I made a boo-boo!
That US rheumatologist (she) did give me some advice. She told me to go see someone else and recommended that I spend $30,000.00 to get a thorough evaluation at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona…