U.S. Residents Seek Lower-Cost Dental Care in Mexico
U.S. residents are seeking dental care in Mexico, which is "quickly transforming its border cities into catch basins for millions of bargain-hunting and uninsured Americans," the Washington Post reports. Forty-five percent of U.S. residents do not have dental insurance.
According to the Post, Arizona retirement communities have begun organizing "regular bus tours for Mexican dental work and inexpensive [prescription] drugs," and some U.S. health insurers cover services received in Mexico.
A recent University of Texas study found that 86% of low-income El Paso, Texas, residents surveyed -- half of whom were undocumented immigrants -- receive medical care or buy prescription drugs from Mexico. In addition, a study published in the Pan-American Journal of Health found that more than 37% of uninsured New Mexico border residents travel to Mexico for medical care.
Mexican dentists "often charge one-fifth to one-fourth of U.S. prices," in part because of "significantly lower" operating costs, the Post reports. Mexican dentists also do not have to purchase high-cost medical malpractice insurance because the Mexican legal system "makes it almost impossible to sue them," the Post reports.
The trend has "unsettled U.S.-based dentists, who tell horror stories of rampant infections, undetected cases of oral cancer and shoddy work south of the border," according to the Post. However, some U.S dentists have "conceded to the competition and begun a 'reverse migration,' opening offices in Mexico to take advantage of the lower costs," the Post reports (Roig-Franzia, Washington Post, 6/18).