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Is Medical Tourism The Next Big Travel Trend In The Mexican Caribbean?

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In this economy, lots of people are looking at more price-driven travel this year. This means a vacation where you can get the most bang for your buck and make the most of your time away from home. But what if your vacation could end up saving you money? And you’d get to visit an amazing destination like the Mexican Caribbean?

Say hello to medical tourism, traveling to a destination for the purpose of getting any type of medical, dental, or even cosmetic procedure that would be more expensive in your home country.

A doctor looking at a woman in the office

What Is Medical Tourism?

Medical tourism is not a new concept. It’s been documented that the Ancient Greeks actually built world health centers in honor of their god of medicine and people from abroad would come in for health care. About 6000 years ago, the Sumerians built the first-known health complexes around hot springs as many were willing to journey far to bathe in mineral-rich hot springs, which were recognized for their many health benefits. 

tourists swimming in a cenote in Mexican Caribbean during the day.

Traveling For Healthcare In Mexico

The Mexican Caribbean has a lot to love about it, including its beautiful beaches, amazing food, and (still) relative affordability. The region is also especially accessible for many in North America, with hundreds of direct flights to Cancun are available on the daily. So, if you can swing a weeklong getaway, it is possible to pair it with that dentist appointment you’ve been putting off for months. Major cities in the region like Cancun and Playa del Carmen have no shortage of private clinics with qualified doctors that charge a fraction of the price for the same treatment you would get in U.S. or Canada. 

There’s this meme that went viral the other week that outlined how a trip to Barcelona to get a root canal would actually be cheaper than paying for the same root canal out of pocket in the States? From the looks of it, many are catching on to this concept of medical tourism. 

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Playa del Carmen hotel outdoor area with seating area and palm trees

With the amount of cheap flights available nowadays (and sometimes the ability to work remotely) more travelers are able to stay in a destination for a longer period of time, making it easier to get some much-needed errands done while you’re on vacation. It’s also common for travel bloggers and vloggers (the modern day influencer, right?) to document their experiences with medical tourism, so it’s definitely a topic being brought to light in a big way.

Medical tourism is also one of the elements that some in the travel industry in Quintana Roo believe will be one of the major draws for tourists to the region this year. 

Statue in Zacil-Ha Cenote, Quintana Roo, Mexico.  Mayan statue that protects the crystal clear waters of the Zacil-Ha cenote. Zacil-Ha Cenote located in the state of Quintana Roo.

Cost Of Basic Medical Treatment In Mexico Vs The USA

Whether it be for a small ear infection, have a few cavities filled, or even an injection or two of botox, major cities like Cancun and Playa del Carmen have no shortage of private clinics with friendly, professional physicians and staff to help you with that you need. Here’s a look at the price comparisons for some basic medical treatment in the U.S. vs the Mexican Caribbean.

Medical travel concept with stethoscope passport document and airplane on world map background.

These are the average prices without insurance:

Teeth cleaning:

  • USA: $125 USD
  • Cancun: $50 USD

Root canal

  • USA: Around $800, depending on the tooth.
  • Cancun: $350 USD per tooth

MRI scan:

  • USA: $1,300
  • Cancun: $690


  • USA: Between $500-800
  • Cancun: $300

It should be noted that the averages for the Mexican Caribbean were taken from prices at some international clinics in Cancun, which means that you can find cheaper treatment in some smaller clinics in and outside of Cancun. 

People on the Beach Near the Playa del Carmen Sculpture at Sunset

Is A Trip For Medical Treatment Worth It For My Next Vacation?

Medical tourism is especially beneficial for the traveler if they go abroad for a big procedure with a clinic or hospital that they trust. A surgery that would cost upwards of $10,000 USD can be in the low thousands in Mexico. Even if you factor in the hotel and food costs, which you can plan and budget for to find something that works for you, the overall cost will be less than having the procedure done at home.

aerial view of cancun hotel zone

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