As health-care costs balloon in the U.S., more and more Americans are crossing the border to seek out routine medical care.
By Julissa Treviño, Jan 9, 2018
For years, Mexican border towns have been popular among Americans seeking more affordable dental care and prescription drugs.
For Alexis Monson, it was worth traveling from San Francisco all the way to Mexico City even for basic health-care appointments. In October, she managed to fit visits to the dermatologist, gynecologist, and dentist into a three-day trip south of the border.
Monson, who's self-employed, has gone about a year without insurance. She used to have insurance through the Affordable Care Act, but she says it was too expensive to maintain. Before the Mexico City trip, she hadn't seen a gynecologist or dentist in over two years.
Monson's situation is not such an unusual one, and, given the White House's efforts to dismantle the ACA, it might become more common. As of 2015, about 65 percent of those traveling for medical procedures were not covered by insurance, according to the Medical Tourism Association's most recent survey. Mexico is among the top medical destinations for Americans because of its proximity and affordable medical costs. The Medical Tourism Index ranksMexico 29th in the world for its volume of medical travelers.
While the ACA has reduced the number of uninsured by about 20 million, it hasn't curbed the medical tourism industry.
Deepak Datta runs the Medical Tourism Corporation, a Dallas-based company that facilitates medical care for about 500 to 600 patients who travel from the United States and Canada to Mexico every year. Many of his clients have medical insurance that doesn't cover surgery in the U.S., or, in the case of dental work, they don't have insurance at all and it's too expensive to pay for the surgery out of pocket.