More U.S. Residents Head to Low-Cost Mexican Nursing Homes
A "small but steadily growing number" of U.S. residents "are moving across the border" into Mexican nursing homes, which provide care at a "fraction" of the price of U.S. facilities, USA Today reports.
As millions of baby boomers reach retirement age and health care costs increase, Mexican nursing home officials expect more U.S. residents to move into their facilities. About 40,000 to 80,000 U.S. retirees currently live in Mexico, but no data exist on the number of retirees who live in nursing homes, David Warner, a public affairs professor at the University of Texas, said.
According to USA Today, "Mexico's proximity to the USA, low labor costs and warm climate make it attractive, although residents caution that quality of care varies greatly in an industry that is just getting off the ground here." Many Mexican nursing homes are "run out of private homes," and, as a result, "regulation by state health departments is often spotty," USA Today reports. In addition, some Mexican nursing homes "have suddenly gone bankrupt, forcing American residents to move," and others "have rough edges, such as peeling paint or frayed sofas, that would turn off many Americans," according to USA Today.
Meanwhile, some Mexican nursing home officials underestimate the difficulty and costs involved with the operation of such facilities, and others are "especially selective when admitting foreign residents" to ensure that they have the ability to pay for care, USA Today reports.
Medicare, Medicaid, the Department of Veterans Affairs and most U.S. health insurers in most cases will not cover the cost of care at Mexican nursing homes.
Flavio Olivieri, a member of the Tijuana Economic Development Council, said, "With the right facilities in place, Mexico could give (American retirees) a better quality of life at a better price than they could find" in the U.S.
However, Larry Minnix, president of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, said that the lack of government regulation could place residents of smaller Mexican nursing homes at risk. He said, "It's the same danger you have of going across the border looking for cheap medications. If you don't know what you're getting, and you're not getting it from people you trust, then you've got an accident waiting to happen" (Hawley, USA Today, 8/16).