Access Baja Director Discusses Benefits of Cross-Border Health Plans
KPCC's "Patt Morrison" on Monday as part of a special two-hour program broadcast examining U.S.-Mexico border issues included an interview with Ramiro Lopez, medical director for Access Baja, about the benefits of cross-border health plans (Morrison, "Patt Morrison," KPCC, 7/24).
At least 150,000 California workers are enrolled in employer-sponsored health plans that offer services in Mexico, insurers say, and the number of firms offering such plans is increasing. Such plans -- offered by Blue Shield of California, which administers Access Baja; Health Net; and Mexico-based SIMNSA -- can cost employers and workers half as much as traditional U.S. coverage.
Cross-border plans have been available for decades through agricultural organizations, but the plans have become more widely available and popular since California in 1998 and 1999 passed legislation to legalize and regulate cross-border HMOs (California Healthline, 10/18/05).
According to Lopez, cross-border plans such as Access Baja provide members with a high quality of care in Mexico at a lower cost, the "warmth and personal touch" of providers in Mexico, access to emergency health care services worldwide and referrals to providers in other countries for treatments that might not be available in Mexico, such as transplants and more complex cardiovascular care.
Lopez said cross-border plans decrease the number of uninsured Latino patients in U.S. emergency departments by providing a lower-cost health plan with high quality and increased access to care.
Other guests on the program included:
- Aaron Adragna, marketing director for the Shops at Las Americas;
- Alejandro Flores Navarro, secretary of the Border Affairs Commission for the City of Tijuana; and
- Jason Wells, executive director of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce ("Patt Morrison," KPCC, 7/24).