While we northerners are used to a strict process for getting lab work done, in Mexico, things are vastly different.
You may notice advertisements in the streets or on billboards from laboratories. It is not uncommon to see ads offering basic blood tests for cholesterol for a special price.
I am in good health and have my lab work done once a year or so just to check. Generally speaking, you do not need an appointment to have your blood drawn. You show up at the lab early for tests that require fasting and are taken on a first come first serve basis.
The process is simple. When you arrive at the lab, you will be asked what tests you want. If you have an idea and have a good command of Spanish, you can pick the test or tests you’d like to have run off of a menu. If you’re not speaking at a comfortable level yet, just take a friend. (If you want to learn Spanish, read our article here about how to learn Spanish.)
A doctor or clinic does not need to order the tests. Of course, if you are being followed by a doctor, they will regularly order your tests and you will go to the lab with the doctor’s order.
But if you’re on your own, you can choose from a large list of tests from basic to thorough blood tests for cholesterol, for white blood cell counts, uric acid, Vitamin B12, urine tests, pap tests, etc.
When you sign in and ask for the tests, they will let you know when results will be available, usually within 24 hours. You can ask them to send the results directly to your email or you can stop back by and pick them up. Then if you need, you can send your results via email to your doctor.
Lab results are in Spanish. You can take the results to your doctor or visit a doctor at a pharmacy, an inexpensive option of about 50 pesos to have them help you understand your results better.
The cost of lab work in Mexico is affordable, even without insurance. Pricing does vary from lab to lab. You might shop around to find the best price for your budget. And you can take advantage of the special promotions that are advertised from time to time. I recently had some routine lab work done, a thorough blood test for cholesterol and red and white platelet counts, etc and the total cost of that lab test was 300 pesos or $15USD.
All in all, health care services in Mexico are convenient. There is usually not a lot of wait for an appointment with a doctor or even a specialist. Pharmacies are abundant and generic medicines and pharmacy-brand medicines are affordable. Even the process for a small surgery is straightforward and affordable.
When we decided to make the move to Mexico, one of the deciding factors was the affordable lifestyle. Medical expenses and services definitely factor into that affordability. We love where we live and love the fact that we have a large range of services at our fingertips from traditional medicine to many alternative medical services like homeopathy and physiotherapy.