Many Americans, Including Immigrants, Seek Cheaper Medical Care in Mexico
Thousands of patients in the United States are traveling to Mexico for medical care to avoid the costs and cultural barriers associated with the U.S. health care system, the Dallas Morning News reports. Patients seeking such care include low-income, undocumented immigrants, as well as wealthier patients who have insurance but prefer less expensive care found in Mexico. For immigrants, the cultural and language barriers they encounter in accessing the U.S. system make Mexican health care appealing. Although many patients "generally prefer" to receive care in the United States, especially for "major surgeries" and cancer treatments, they are attracted to the "bargain-priced" primary care and cosmetic services in Mexico. The Morning News reports the costs are lower in Mexico because of "heavy" government subsidies. E. Richard Brown, director of the University of California-Los Angeles' Center for Health Policy Research, said, "Some people go because they like the care, but for others, it is the only care they can afford."
Although health services in the United States are more expensive, Dr. Ed Luce, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, said the costs are associated with the "quality assurances" from the FDA and U.S. medical schools. However, Dr. Heriberto Salinas, a Dallas physician, said that primary care in Mexico is "on par" with care available in the United States, adding, "You find that the technology and services in major Mexican cities are very similar, and that many of the physicians are U.S.-trained." However, he cautioned that "the same can't be said for rural towns in Mexico, where health care is still lacking" (Corchado/Carbajal, Dallas Morning News, 4/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.