Wednesday, May 27, 2009

One Million Californians Seek Medical Care In Mexico Annually

los algodones mexico

Dental tourism mecca, Los Algodones, B.C., Mexico

I knew a number of patients crossed the border into Mexico for cheaper health care but this many?

Driven by rising health care costs at home, nearly 1 million Californians cross the border each year to seek medical care in Mexico, according a new paper by UCLA researchers and colleagues published in the journal Medical Care.

An estimated 952,000 California adults sought medical, dental or prescription services in Mexico annually, and of these, 488,000 were Mexican immigrants, according to the research paper, "Heading South: Why Mexican Immigrants in California Seek Health Services in Mexico."

The paper is the first large-scale population-based research ever published on U.S. residents who travel to Mexico for health services. It is based on an analysis of 2001 data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the nation's largest state health survey.

"What the research shows is that many Californians, especially Mexican immigrants, go to Mexico for health services," said lead author Steven P. Wallace, associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, which conducts CHIS. "We already know that immigrants use less health care overall than people born in the U.S. Heading south of the border further reduces the demand on U.S. facilities."

Cost and lack of insurance were primary reasons both Mexican and non-Mexican U.S. residents sought health services across the border.

Not surprisingly, dental care was the most common service obtained by immigrants.

Since this piece so aptly points out it is mainly Mexican immigrants that are returning to Mexico for health care. I suspect the majority return because of linguistic and cultural reasons as well as the cost.

Exit question: During the United States recession of the past year has their been more health care in Mexico because immigrants have decided to leave the United States due to lack of employment?

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