But my friend had been a dancer and then a choreographer of celebration events all around the world, and though she lives in retirement comfortably, if somewhat precariously, by renting out a guest house (and, when she wants to travel,
her own home) she, like most former artistes, has no medical insurance of any kind, except for medicare. She thinks more than twice before she calls a doctor.
As for her solution to the dentistry challenge, it has two prongs: prophylaxis aka cleaning, xrays and diagnosis by aspiring hygienists at the dental clinic run by the University of New Mexico, followed up by serious dental work in Mexico.
Now she needs a tooth implant, a horrendously expensive procedure, so we were Juarez-bound, for the first phase of a three visit process. Even after adding transport and hotel costs, she’d be well ahead of the game, she told me.
I’m not going to name the dentist she saw, but I can tell you that I was wowed by his setup. The receptionists and all other aides spoke idiomatic, if lightly accented English, but most of the patients I encountered when I dropped off my friend and later when I picked her up were locals–and locals are hard to fool. This was no scumbag scam existing merely to suck dollars out of the U.S.
When I told the receptionist I wanted to post a little article on WhirledView, she welcomed the idea and gave me a tour of the facilities. I saw seven surgical suites with fittings that would make any American dentist proud.
Then it was time for the day's real work to get under way, time for me to wish my friend good luck. I had three hours to kill, time I used to explore the neighborhood and take the pictures you see here. These photos are not all-inclusive, merely representative—the most amusing, the best lit, the least ill-focused, etc. Enough to indicate that Avenida de las Americas with its cross streets is wall to wall with dental clinics interrupted only by the offices of other medical specialists.
In the northern parts of the United States, uninsured or under-insured people look to Canada for prescription drugs and other health services.
In the southwest they go to Mexico, where they find facilities that meet the highest professional standards. When my friend showed her previous Mexican dental work to American dentists, they sighed and said, “First rate.”
The only way to stop the outsourcing of medical and dental work–and see that all Americans have access to the care they need when they need it–is to abandon the private enterprise shibboleth and universalize
America'a full-of-holes healthcare system. Despite the ballyhoo over the advantages of competition, doctoring and dosing are more expensive in America than in any other industrialized country, and our overall health, according to every demographic study, is worse. Why? Because too many of us (and ever more of us) can’t afford the splendid care that’s available to those who are well off or well covered by for-profit insurance plans.
However, there’s an alternative to the dilemma of going without dental work or losing your shirt. Go to Mexico. Get yourself the most beautiful smile in the world.
Then have a terrific holiday on what you save. Right there in Mexico. As a way of saying, “Thanks.”