California Employers Offer Health Benefits Through Cross-Border HMOs
About 36,000 California workers and their families receive health care services through three employer-sponsored health plans at health care facilities in Mexico, where services can cost as much as 40% less than in the U.S., the Los Angeles Times reports.
Currently, Blue Shield of California, Health Net and SIMNSA, which is based in Mexico, offer cross-border health plans licensed by California. Monthly premiums for Blue Shield's cross-border plans average $100 for individuals and $350 for families in Blue Shield, while its HMOs that include only U.S. providers in their networks on average cost $261 monthly for individuals and $721 monthly for families.
According to the Times, the cross-border HMOs make it possible for employers to offer services they previously could not afford.
However, some doctors and consumer advocates have voiced concerns about the quality of care in Mexico and the limited regulatory control of Mexican facilities. In addition, some people say the rise of cross-border plans represents a "sad commentary on the limited access that immigrants and the working poor have to treatment in California," the Times reports (Marosi, Los Angeles Times, 8/21).