Southern California and Arizona are known for a lot of different things, but one very popular and very controversial aspect is crossing the border into Mexico for Medical! Cheap Drugs, affordable prescription glasses and of course major dental work!
So, of course while we were camped out in Yuma, we grabbed our passports and drove south to Los Algodones, Mexico. It’s a four block radius where there are said to be more pharmacies, doctors, dentists and opticians than any similar area, anywhere else in the world!
Luckily for you, viewing our experience doesn’t require a passport…
Why did we cross the border for dental work? Because, after listening to our snowbird friends brag about how cheap it is and how the care is the same as their doctor or dentist back home, why wouldn’t we go! Los Algodones is a very safe border village and has become one of the dental capitals of the world with over 350 dentists in a town with a population of 4,000. So, we thought our odds were pretty good and as you can see, all is fine.
The underlying reason is we don’t have dental insurance. We’ve paid for it in the past but never found anything worthy, much less anything nationwide. We have checked rates in the Midwest, east and west coasts only to get quotes of $200+ per person for just a cleaning. Why, because when you don’t regularly see the same dentist they want to charge you a new patient fee, x-ray fee and whatever else they come up with. Regardless of what I say or whether I offer to pay in cash; nothing ever seemed to make a bit of difference. So for us, getting the same great care at a fraction of the price was well worth the walk across the border.
We had Arizona on our schedule for a while and about 3 months before our arrival, we started asking around for the best border town, best doctors and what kind of prices to expect. So we didn’t enter into this blindly, not that we had any fear to begin with.
But its Mexico… there are drugs, guns and violence, oh my!
Yes, but have you been to St. Louis or Detroit? Because these cities are in the top 5 most dangerous cities In America and top 50 in the world!
The big thing to remember here is tourism. These Mexican Medical Wonderlands exists because of tourism. It’s to their benefit and their goal to make sure each and every tourist feels safe and well taken care of so they will come back again, and next time with all of their Canadian friends too!
Now that we have you feeling all safe, warm and fuzzy inside, let’s talk details. Here is everything you need to know about visiting Mexico for medical. (Or at least everything we could think of)
- We suggest parking on the US side and walking across, the security going into Mexico is a breeze! Our parking fee was $5 and the car seemed safe. The lot isn’t shaded and it’s the desert, so don’t even think about leaving your pet in the car. You can drive across the border and there are some small fee parking lots but not many.
- They operate on Arizona time but are technically on Pacific time.
- The cost is typically 50-70 percent less than U.S. prices. Bring cash (American dollars are fine).
- It’s a dentistry free-for-all, no accreditation process or licensing procedures exist in Mexico. Don’t just show up and go to the first place you see.
- Ask questions and check out their facility before agreeing to anything. Ask where they went to school, for how long and make sure they have a degree.
- Passports are required to cross the border, both directions.
- What not to bring into Mexico: Fire weapons, Bullets, Explosives and related chemical substances, Recreational drugs, Narcotics, psychotropic and other illegal substances, Vegetables.
- To get back to the U.S. the officials at the border will interview you one by one, examine your passport and ask what you purchased. They weren’t interested in receipts or going through my bag.
- If you are on a schedule be sure and watch the line at the border crossing. On busy times (especially winter) it starts winding around the corner and back up the street, it can take an hour or more to get through. It was around 3pm March 1st and it did take us 40 minutes. If you go first thing in the morning, wait until late in the day or visit in the off-season, you might breeze right through.
- You can legally bring a 90 day supply of pills across the border into the U.S. No controlled substances, like opiates, without a prescription.
- For limits on Alcohol and other items, check this website for details.
As we mentioned in the video, some thought we paid too much, but we’re happy! A mere $530 for 2 cleanings/exams and a new porcelain crown in less than 24 Hours! We would’ve had to pay that just for the cleanings and exam alone in the states, so yeah, we are happy!
And as if the medical incentives aren’t enough to get you across the border, at least go for the cheap $1 tacos and $2 beer!