Cross-Border Health Plans Aim To Improve Access to Health Care
Health insurance plans that provide access to services in Mexico and Southern California are gaining popularity as a cost-efficient method of providing health care services to migrant workers, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
According to the California HealthCare Foundation, workers from Mexico and other Latin American countries account for 57% of California's 6.7 million uninsured residents.
Cross-border health care coverage allows beneficiaries access to basic health services in California and hospital services in Mexico, where prices for surgeries and other serious procedures are much lower.
Christina Suggett -- chief operating officer of Sistemas Medicos Nacionales S.A., the only Mexican HMO licensed to operate in California -- has about 19,000 members in San Diego and Imperial counties.
Health Net and PacifiCare both offer cross-border health insurance policies using SIMNSA's physician network. Blue Shield of California offers a similar employer-based plan using its own network of providers in Baja, Mexico.
The total number of California workers enrolled in cross-border plans is estimated at between 150,000 and 200,000, with the majority enrolled in plans sponsored by farming organizations.
Barriers to the plans include financial burdens for employers and workers in low-paying industries, as well as limitations to Mexican workers who do not come from border cities where most cross-border plans' physicians are concentrated.
Workers without proper documentation also would have difficulty obtaining coverage, according to the Union-Tribune (Darcé, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/18).
CHCF publishes California Healthline.