LOS ALGODONES, Mexico (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Americans hunting for safe, affordable healthcare are heading south to Mexico. In a small town just below Yuma, Arizona, the big draw is dental care.
In fact, there are so many dentists in Los Algodones, Mexico that it's nicknamed Molar City. And the prices are right: We found them to be as much as 70 percent less than you'd find in Georgia.
"I don't have medical insurance. We come down here and get the dental work done. It seems to be about one-fourth the price of dentists back home," Minnesotan Scott Learned told us from the dental chair.
Mary and Clayton Travers of Waverly Hall, Georgia made a trip west to see friends and to swing down to Mexico for dental surgery.
Was the facility clean? "Absolutely, it was, if not, better than any facility I've been to in this country. All of their equipment was state of the art and everything was immaculately clean," Mary Travers told us. Her husband Clayton also vouches for safety as a visitor.
"Yeah, never worried the whole time."
Safe and affordable.
Our continuing FOX 5 I-Team investigation finds there are a few other low-cost reasons Americans make the trip, like the pharmacies where the prices are great and you don't always need a prescription.
Richard Morterud says he has been here dozens of times. He's a Marylander, but also a snowbird who comes south for the winter. While he's here he goes to the dentist and picks up a few months' worth of prescriptions like this blood thinner Eliquis.
"With the Part D, I still have to pay $199. Here, now with the rate, it's $82. Made by Pfizer. Same packaging. Same pill. I've compared them. Big difference," he said.
We compared the costs of a few popular generic drugs to prices at an Atlanta-area pharmacy. Generic Advair here is $378. The same dosage in Mexico comes to $34.09. Generic Retin-A here at home is $198.48. South of the border $26.39. And finally, generic Viagra is pricey in Atlanta at $115.52 for four pills. Same dosage in Mexico - four pills for $3.99.
You can't get a controlled substance and bring it home without a prescription from a US doctor. Drugs that are not FDA approved but are available out of the country cannot come across the border either. And, there's a three-month supply limit.
At the border heading home, this is where you'll see a line that can be 45 minutes long. You must declare what you've bought and have your passport.
And sometimes tourists to Mexico will get what they need then stop off for a thing or two they want.
"People say, 'Wow you look good for your age,' and I say, "Yes I do."
Susan Budz is a snowbird from Canada. She's nearly 60 and has been getting Botox injections for years. She did her research and landed here at the Baja Surgery Center.
The prep was extensive. The doctor showed her the expiration dates on the sealed packages she opened in front of her.
"I've been doing this 15 years and nobody ever showed me what they're giving me or the expiry date," this Canadian traveler told us.
Another necessity for many on a fixed income is eye care.
"We have an optometrist right here so you can have your eye test. It won't take long. Ten minutes." Yuri Loiza of 20/20 Vision Center says it can be done one day.
They have all of the same designer names, but obviously, prices vary depending on how fancy or simple you want to go. She recommends making an eye appointment first. You can see a dentist or the pharmacist while you wait, because progressive lenses, well, they will take a few hours.
"You can get a lot of dentists, optical, pharmacists. Three blocks. Sometimes people don't like to walk a lot, so that's why they like this little town; it's close," she said.
You can get a lot done in a one-day trip to Los Algodones, Mexico. Appointments. Lunch. Shopping. Secured parking. And some doctors offer hotels on-site if you need to stay. When we were leaving we ran into a familiar face with a fresh and happy look.
Susan Budz was delighted to show us her now diminished facial lines.
"All of my lines. Oh, my God, yeah. I'm in. I told her it's good for 12 months and I'll see you in 12 months. And if she moves, she gave me her cellphone number. Oh yeah, she's mine for life now."
Interested in a trip abroad for healthcare? Do your homework first. Check out what the CDC says about medical tourism. And get up to speed by watching the first part of our series which takes you inside dental facilities and shows reveals an American company that specializes in hooking you up with doctors who they believe are best and safest.