Mexico: Not Just a Spring Break Destination Anymore

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

More and more Americans are heading south of the border these days, but it’s not for spring break and these are not college students. They are uninsured or fed-up Americans seeking alternatives to U.S. healthcare in Mexico.

“Medical Tourism,” a term that refers to the practice of traveling to another country for healthcare, is gaining much popularity due to the inexpensive and convenient nature of healthcare abroad. Nearly 150,000 Americans travel abroad every year for lower-cost medical care for everything from elective procedures to more complex surgeries including joint replacement, cardiac surgery, dental surgery and cosmetic surgery.

This observation comes right on the heels of a study that I blogged about last week. According to the University of Southern California, residents of Mexico are healthier than their Mexican-American counterparts. With that in mind, is it any wonder Americans are leaving the U.S. to deal with their healthcare needs? Some U.S. companies are even sending employees to Mexico for their annual checkups, and some insurers are reimbursing for procedures performed abroad.

Mexico isn’t the only country attracting medical tourists — India, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia are also among the places Americans are turning to for their healthcare needs. But Mexico’s proximity to the U.S. makes it a very attractive alternative to many Americans.

However, along with these drastically cheaper prices — basic surgical procedures in Mexico are about 40 percent cheaper than in the U.S. — comes some questions. How can something so much cheaper be as good as — or better than — anything we can receive at home? But those who have taken the journey and experienced it for themselves say the procedures are not only cheaper, but more enjoyable all together due to friendlier staffs.

Maybe the U.S. healthcare system will take the hint from its Latin neighbors and offer its citizens quality healthcare at these competitive prices. You know what they say — what happens in Mexico, stays in Mexico. As far as healthcare is concerned, let’s hope that’s not the case.

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