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News of the Day ... In Perspective


California HMOs sending enrollees to Mexico

Since California became the first state to regulate insurance programs that require border crossing for basic medical care, more than 700 non-agricultural businesses and hundreds of farms offer such plans.

In Tijuana, care costs 40 to 50% as much as comparable services in the United States. Labor, malpractice, and other overhead costs are much less in Mexico. One physician who operates on both sides of the border charges one-third as much for laser eye surgery in a small hospital in Tijuana as for the same procedure in San Diego.

Representatives of Blue Shield of California and Health Net say that quality is comparable.

Construction of hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies is booming in Tijuana.

Gastroenterologist Juan Carlos Helu Vazquez said that both Mexican and American patients like the attention that they receive in Mexico. “There are a lot of patients who like the old-time medicine. They like the doctor asking about your family, your work.”

The Texas legislature also considered allowing HMOs to operate on both sides of the border, but lobbying by south Texas physicians defeated the proposal (Washington Post 11/6/05).

Additional information:

Presentations by John and Alieta Eck, M.D., on Medical Tourism and Medical Timeshares in Antigua at 2005 AAPS annual meeting, “Third-Party Free Practices”.

“Medical Tourism,” AAPS News, October 2005, with link to UK-based Medical Tourist Company.

“In-Patient Care [in Canada] Being Outsourced to India,” News of the Day 4/27/04.


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