Rebelling Against the "System"
Really it all started off as a rebellious act, this whole Mexico thing.
I simply wanted to cross the border to try to buy prescription drugs for asthma. I was getting tired of paying 65 dollars for a quick visit to the urgent care center and an additional 69 dollars for a generic inhaler every month. Apparently, when you have no health insurance (nor hundreds upon hundreds of dollars per month to pay for a "pre-existing condition" health care plan), the doctors will only prescribe you one inhaler. Then you have to come back every month.
This is a real drag when you are a college student with no job and no money. So imagine my surprise when during a pretty long rant about this whole unfair thing and how I need an inhaler to literally survive, this woman told me that I should "just go to Mexico and buy what I need there?" I was blown away.
After asking her close to a hundred questions, I found out that you can go to Mexico, walk into any Farmacia on any street corner in Tijuana and buy whatever you need, without a prescription in hand!
En La Farmacia (In the Pharmacy...)
What an amazing concept!
So my first drive to Mexico with a guy friend (for protection) was a fun experiment. I learned the following sentence in that first Farmacia:
"Yo necessito medicina para mi asma, por favor."
And the rest is history. I was handed my brand of inhaler in a little kit of three inhalers and the man behind the counter said, "Vente dolares, por favor." I could not believe my ears!
Twenty bucks for three inhalers? Are you kidding me?!
Needless to say... Driving to Mexico became my personal "healthcare plan" while living in Los Angeles and earning my BA degree at Cal State University at Northridge.
Is this really legal? Can I get caught?
Is this really legal?
Honestly I don't know. It was legal when I was doing this 15 years ago. Then they started "cracking down" against this about 14 years ago. Thankfully, I have had insurance for the past decade and a half.
I would say that you need to check this out for yourself and enter Mexico at your own risk!
The pharmacist told me that they put names down on a piece of paper, trusting that it truly is a reliable prescription and at the end of the day a doctor comes along and signs off on everything, as a double legality.
You do have to be careful when you buy prescription drugs in Mexico because they may be close to out of date. I did find out from a hospital intern in Los Angeles that the United States tends to sell off our about-to-expire drugs for cheap to Mexican pharmacies. So check dates!
Also, be careful at the border and make certain to protect yourself by keeping your actual prescription in your wallet or purse to prove that you indeed need this. Also, please don't go overboard and buy every single prescription you can think of, nor go crazy with painkillers, and do not buy drugs for anyone other than yourself.
Be extra careful that you are not buying random drugs made in Mexico because the quality control can be totally lacking and these can be dangerous. And be aware that you are risking your own personal freedoms to do this. If you buy say, 20 inhalers, or 40 bottles of codeine, you will be most likely detained and/or arrested.
As a final note, do not park your car in Mexico. Park in the US, and walk over the border.
Trust me on this.
Someday I will write about the day I nearly got arrested for bribing a "policia"....