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Horrific cabo trip

In cooperation with: Visit Mexico
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Level Contributor
251 posts
15 reviews
Horrific cabo trip

We were visiting cabo may 15 staying at the Bahia. On Friday morning our friend fell from the fourth floor hallway. Although the outside corridors have a mere 3 feet security walk It was an accident and we were not assigning blame. The security at the hotel called an ambulance which took him to the one world by st Luke's hospital. He had to have emergency surgery as there were lacerations to liver, broken ribs , fractured vertebrae and collapsed lungs. The DOE at the hospital ,Mario , was the most unprofessional medical person I have ever met. He basically tried to threaten us to not allow the surgery without immediate credit card payment. Eventually they performed the surgery to remove his spleen, patch up liver, and put a chest tube in our friend. We contacted his primary insurance which basically said just pay the bill and submit a claim for reimbursement. We then called our travel insurance, Allianz which authorized an air medivac out of cabo. This was set up and prepaid by Allianz. All we needed was a doctors authorization that he was ok to transport. Then the hospital demanded 50000 dollars before they would sign the release. We explained we did not have that kind of money. Mario threatened and harassed us for over 24hours while our friend was held hostage in this hospital with severe injuries. We had to contact a local lawyer and the American embassy to try and intervene with this monster. Eventually they settled on 22000 which was paid by credit card and we got him out via air vac to UCSD. If it had not been for our travel insurance we would no doubt be bringing him home in a casket. I urge everyone traveling out if the country to buy this insurance and be very wary which hospital your hotel calls! Stay away from one world / st lukes! We are still At UCSD and hope to see him released on Tuesday. I have been traveling to cabo for over 17 years but I will never return after this nightmare.

Level Contributor
1,601 posts
22 reviews
1. Re: Horrific cabo trip

So sorry to hear about your friend. Wishes for a speedy recovery. In previous posts we have heard about the costly medical costs and how the hospital will not release you until you pay. I will not go to Cabo without travel Insurance due to "what if" their was a medical issue. So vacationers be careful and if their is an unexpected medical issue be prepared to pay, have travel insurance and have a credit card with you.

Centerport, New York
Level Contributor
18 posts
10 reviews
2. Re: Horrific cabo trip

So sorry to hear about your friend, and send good wishes for a speedy recovery. He was fortunate to be traveling with friends who could advocate for him.

I too, had an experience at the hospital due to a broken shoulder that occurred while on a fishing boat. The doctors in Cabo wanted to operate and I chose to go home where a specialist said no operation was needed.

I too had to give a credit card for payment before being released. The people at our hotel were wonderful and I am grateful we were able to get home with pain medication.

The lesson that I got from my experience is that Mexico is a third world country and while vacationing there we need to be mindful of that. People are in survival mode. Safety standards, regulations, and services are not the same as in the US and travel insurance is probably a good idea.

I enjoyed the weather, water, views, food and our hotel in Cabo and will return wiser.

Kelowna, Canada
Level Contributor
2,473 posts
31 reviews
3. Re: Horrific cabo trip

Very sorry to hear about your friend. What an terrible accident ! Glad to hear you all had your "travel insurance" , extremely important in this kind of situation or any possible ones , you just never know. I don't understand you saying you'll never return ? 17 years of incredible vacations and then toss it all away because of an accident ? Maybe you're just "hot" right now and things will be better for you later. All our best to a speedy recovery for your friend...........

Level Contributor
5,651 posts
22 reviews
4. Re: Horrific cabo trip

I agree that the medical system in Cabo can be a nightmare. I too had a horrific experience at a Cabo hospital a few years ago. It was awful!! My husband was admitted to the Specialties Hospital for 36 hours and was misdiagnosed as having a heart attack, when in fact he had pneumonia. We knew we had to get out of there and chose to be airlifted to Scripps in San Diego even though we had no travel insurance. Our hospital cost was $6,000, ambulance to the airport was $1,000 and the airlift was $24,000. And yes, we had to put it all on a credit card before we could leave the country. Our insurance at home did cover most of it, but it took 9 months to be reimbursed.

BUT - it has not stopped me from returning to Cabo! It's just that now I'm better prepared. I always purchase travel insurance. I'm thankful your friend had insurance - it has saved him a lot of money! I pray he has a quick recovery.

Queretaro, Mexico
Destination Expert
for Queretaro
Level Contributor
14,096 posts
10 reviews
5. Re: Horrific cabo trip

The only times I have needed medical help I have just called the travel insurance company. They deal with the hospital and doctors and I have had no hassle. Traveling without specific travel/health insurance is something I just wouldn't even consider. The care my friends/family have received has always been first class. I cannot understand why in this case Allianz didn't deal directly with the hospital? Maybe things work differently....

Level Contributor
1,141 posts
46 reviews
6. Re: Horrific cabo trip

I hope your friend is on the mend. Thanks for posting your story- sometimes it takes a story like yours to underscore the importance of travel

Medical insurance. A person just has no way of knowing when an accident will happen. Thank goodness you had the proper insurance.

Level Contributor
251 posts
15 reviews
7. Re: Horrific cabo trip

Allianz tried to deal directly with the hospital however the hospitality Luke's was uncooperative. They would not allow me to get a fax of the forms required by Allianz to start the process. Allianz even emailed the hospital but they told me they can't open Mario's email. Finally I had them fax to the hotel so I could complete and send back. You can't find st Luke's on the Internet they did not provide us a working phone number to the hospital and no fax machine. Very suspicious. We were also told the manager of our hotel (bahia) came to st Luke's to check on our friend. The hotel called this ambulance makes me also suspicious of collusion.

Edited: 2:00 pm, May 27, 2013
Alhambra, California
Level Contributor
60 posts
8. Re: Horrific cabo trip

Injured foreigners are like gold for the private clinics in Mexico. Private ambulance drivers are known to fight it out in the street over the prone body of an injured foreigner for the right to take the patient to the private clinic they work for. They get a big commission from the clinic. Once in the clinic you are a captive to their whims and overcharges. This message board if full of examples similar to CarmenCabo's experience. It is actually the norm.

9 posts
9. Re: Horrific cabo trip

I am so sorry to hear about your friends accident. Regardless of how it happened, thank goodness he/she is ok and home to recover around friends and family. The one thing I would like to say is that I am an American living in Cabo so I have some insight as to why the hospital bill and payment was due prior to release. American insurance companies (the real problem) will not take responsibility for covering charges out of the country unless you pay and submit the receipts for reimbursement, as they instructed you to do. What person has access to 20k to 50k to prepay? That is insane, right? However, the Mexican hospitals (and most other countries by the way) require the pre-payment otherwise travelers return home and the bills are never paid. Think about how many bills would go unpaid if the hospital had the attitude "you can pay us when you get home." Are there still honest people out there that would follow through and pay...yes. Would most, no. Because of this, these policies are in place in tourist towns. I can only imagine what the bill would have been had those procedures been provided in the US...much more than 21K. This is because we do not have a broken medical system here and there aren't insurance companies and lawyers involved at every turn. I have received nothing but wonderful medical care in Cabo since I have lived here. And I pay at the time services are rendered. Your advice to be aware is great advice for all traveling to any foreign country...not just Cabo. The coverage you have at home is not the coverage you have once you leave the US and that is not Cabo's fault. I wish your friend a speedy recovery.

Saint Louis...
Level Contributor
821 posts
6 reviews
10. Re: Horrific cabo trip

American insurance companies are the problem? Give me a break.