Monday, May 19, 2014
Even with Obamacare, Americans Are Still Going to Mexico to get Healthcare
Despite the increase of people under health coverage, many Americans, mostly from California, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico continue to travel to Mexican cities along the border for health care. However, while those areas receive the bigger influx of patients, some Americans from as far as New York and Washington are flying to central Mexico to get more complex treatments, like surgery (both needed and cosmetic).
Steven Wallance, associate director of the UCLA Center, may have the explanation: "Even with insurance, it can sometimes be cheaper in Mexico." Although more Americans have health insurance now, they save it for emergencies and continue to go to Mexico for regular health care.
Other patients claim that the lower prices are not the only reason. Irma Montalvo, from California, signed up for insurance, but she still prefers to go to Mexico, 16 miles south of her home in Chula Vista. "I can't use my insurance outside of California, but seeing my doctor costs me only $15 dollars and I don't have to worry about deductibles. But most importantly, she makes me feel comfortable."
This experience reflects an aspect of Mexican health care that many Americans appreciate: doctors spending time with their patients and, in the opinion of some, making them feel like people.
"She (the doctor) listens to me," says Montalvo, "I come here feeling really bad and three days later, I am better."
Xochitl Castaneda, director of the health initiative of the Americas at U.C. Berkeley's School of Public Health, expresses it in another way. "Mexican clinics offer something not always found in the U.S., quality (of service) and warmth. When you are sick, you need medical support. You also need emotional support. That is something that Mexican physicians give."
Another cultural difference that Americans are often surprised of is that most Mexican doctors give their patients their personal numbers and they answer them.
But what do you think about the Affordable Health Care Act and the influx of American patients in Mexico? Tell us your opinion in the comments. Alternatively, you can read about how safe Mexico is here or about the experience of an American woman who decided to retire in Mexico here.
Robert Ervin is a freelancer who writes about healthcare, medical tourism, and living in Mexico.
If you're considering traveling to Mexico for healthcare or retiring in Mexico, you may want to get yourself a copy of The English's Speaker's Guide to Doctors and Hospitals in Mexico, in order to find a good doctor or hospital in the main towns and cities of Mexico, or The English Speaker's Guide to Medical Care in Mexico, to understand how the Mexican healthcare system works.