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Mexican Medical Border Towns: A Case Study of Algodones, Baja California

Alex P. Oberle, Daniel D. Arreola


Health insurance in the United States has become increasingly expensive and unavailable to large numbers of Americans. As a result, many in the U.S. rely on less expensive foreign sources of pharmaceuticals and health services, especially Canada and Mexico. Mexico's proximity to large population centers and communities of elderly winter visitors has resulted in thriving tourist-oriented medical retailing in several Mexican border communities. This article explores this form of cross-border retailing by illustrating the spatial distribution of tourist pharmacies across the Sonora-Arizona border and into adjacent areas of Baja California. We also show the typical distribution of tourist pharmacies within Mexican border communities that draw large numbers of American visitors. To elaborate on the broader spectrum of cross-border health care retailing, we present a case study of Los Algodones, Baja California, a community that has transformed itself into a hub of health services provision and pharmaceutical retailing.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229