People come to Rosarito for any number of activities: sunbathing, fishing, honeymooning, and pyramid-hiking are just some of the better known (and the most photogenic). At the same time, most vacationers presumably don't come here looking for a surprise visit to the emergency room, but it does happen from time to time.
Luckily, should the tennis elbow become unbearable, or if a plate of shellfish leads to stomach problems, Americans and Canadians are almost universally surprised by the quality of the private hospital service in Mexico.
Take the chain “Hospitales Los Angeles” for instance. This is Mexico's largest hospital group and they operate 20 hospitals around the country (including Tijuana, where officials say that Americans constitute 40 percent of the clientele). This group plans to increase the number by 15 more hospitals over the next few years.
A patient entering an emergency room at a Hospitales Los Angeles unit usually waits no longer than 10 minutes, whether he has a fractured sternum or cracked fingernail. The doctors are consummate professionals, and most speak fluent English.
For a less severe malady, patients usually spend less 30 minutes total inside the emergency room doors, before being sent on their way with a prescription, a set of instructions, and a handshake. Oh, and a bill for maybe $30 or $40 dollars.
The hospitals of Hospitales Los Angeles aren't the only game in town. Another chain with some big muscle behind it is Grupo Star Medica, which is aiming to put itself at the head of the growing market for medical tourism. Star Medica and Carlos Slim, one of the world's richest men, are partnering to build hospitals that will focus on foreign patients. The group already has a center in Juarez--across the border from El Paso, Texas--and is planning new hospitals in northern locales like Tijuana, Mexicali, and Monterrey.
El Hospital San Jose, a Monterrey-based operation that was recently profiled by Bloomberg news, has performed everything from heart transplants to gastric banding. More than 90 percent of the doctors there have worked in the United States or Europe, which has helped make El Hospital San Jose one of the most prestigious hospitals in Mexico.
But it doesn't really matter where you go; there are first-rate medical centers from Mexico City to Guadalajara, from Tijuana to Cancun. If you're in a Mexican city, health care shouldn't be on your mind.