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Crossing the Border for Health Care: An Exploratory Analysis of Consumer Choice

Ronald J. Vogel


In response to the twin problems of high health-care costs and limited financial access for those who lack health insurance coverage, many U.S. residents living along the nearly 2,000 mile Mexican border have chosen to go to Mexico to obtain various health services, ranging from medical and dental care, to pharmaceuticals, to traditional medicine and healing, either at reduced prices or without the barriers to care that are present in the United States (Nichols et al. 1991, Homedes and LaBrec 1991; Chacon Sosa and Otalora Soler 1988). In effect, the U.S. is importing health care from Mexico and engaging in international health-care trade. Appendix Table 1 (for physicians and hospitals) and Appendix Table 2 (for pharmaceuticals) illustrate the large health-care price differences between the U.S. and Mexico. But even though the price differences may be large, there may also be large differences in the quality of care between the U.S. and Mexico, and there are travel and time costs involved.

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