Washington Post Examines Cross-Border Health Plans
More than 20,000 California employees and their dependents are enrolled in lower-cost health plans that send members to Mexico for nonemergency care, and membership in cross-border health plans has increased by about 3,000 annually, the Washington Post reports.
Blue Shield of California and Health Net offer cross-border health plans, which cost 40% to 50% less than plans that provide comparable care in the U.S. because of lower-priced labor, medical malpractice insurance and overhead in Mexico. Under cross-border health plans, members receive nonemergency care from physicians licensed in Mexico, and California officials regulate the operations of the plans.
Health insurers that offer cross-border health plans maintain membership likely will increase "because the cost of health insurance ... is out of reach for an increasing number of working families," the Post reports. However, some U.S. medical professionals have raised concerns that "care is being sacrificed to low prices," according to the Post.
Jack Lewin, CEO of the California Medical Association, said, "There are quality standards that we are developing and implementing in America that are not going to be implemented there for a long time," adding, "In terms of specialized care, it's critically important that we look beyond just cost savings" (Geis, Washington Post, 11/6).