Cancun, Q.R. – For the second time in a week, American tourists have been overcharged for local medical services.
Earlier this week, an Indiana couple visiting Cancun for their granddaughter’s wedding unexpectedly required medical attention. Dixie Stinson, grandmother of the bride-to-be, was transported to AmeriMed Hospital in Cancun after collapsing and losing consciousness.
Mrs. Stinson was treated for a 99 percent artery blockage in her heart, but not before the family was told they had to pay $25,000 USD upfront. According to 10News, another blockage was discovered during the first operation. AmeriMed then requested an additional $30,000 USD before they would operate again.
The operations were successful and Mrs. Stinson is recovering in Cancun hospital, however, daughter Mary Richardson says the hospital refuses to release her mother until they pay another $40,000 USD.
A spokesperson for the American Consulate in Mérida said “Mexican hospitals cannot stop anyone from leaving a hospital if the financial debt has not been covered completely. They may inform the person the debt needs to be cleared, however, what we have seen in past experience is that they let the customers go,” the spokesperson said.
“Should the customer be forced to pay the debt, we normally refer them to the local police. This is the standard procedure.”
According to the State Department’s website, two AmeriMed branches in Los Cabos were shut down in April by Mexican officials due to “repeated reports of predatory business practices and billing.”
Another American tourist who sought medical attention for his wife in a Playa del Carmen facility was also required to make an advanced payment of $3,000 USD before the woman would be seen by a doctor.
Jeff Roberts of Monterrey, California, said he was left with $6.00 after making the deposit so doctors would attend to his wife, who needed stitches after injuring her leg.
“They would not let me see my wife until I paid,” he said. “We have health insurance that we’ve used before, arriving for the ninth time to Riviera Maya. Although it is effective and the hotel doctor said it would be accepted, upon arrival at the hospital, they did not want to accept it.”
He said that after they arrived at the Playa del Carmen Hospiten, staff would not allow them to leave to find another medical option.
He added that in treating his wife, the Hospiten staff “Did not take x-rays or biological studies or analyzes. They used only sutures and nothing else.” To make matters worse, he was given a prescription to buy gauze and antiseptic.
Dr. Ángel Vázquez Vázquez, treasurer of the Medical College of Quintana Roo, said that although he was unaware of this particular case, it is striking that they harassed her husband when the patient was conscious and dependent on receiving treatment.
“No way can you force someone to get treatment. If someone comes in an emergency situation, the doctor is required to stabilize the patient and, once achieved, they are to offer treatment options from which the patient can choose. That is the rule,” he stated.
Quintana Roo Senator, Luz María Beristain, says “Doctors forget their hippocratic oath and focus on profit motive, preying on people at their most vulnerable moment.”
In the case of Jeff Roberts, Profeco head Ernesto Nemer Álvarez, said that the private Hospiten hospital in Playa del Carmen was forced to return 40 percent of the money he paid for stitches due to overcharging.