Medical tourism companies see Mexico as the next big destination

KVUE, 11/6/2012

Mexico’s beaches beckon tourists seeking a vacation, but some also see the country as the next big medical tourism destination where Americans can escape soaring medical costs.

“We can provide anywhere from 25 to 45 percent savings,” said Collin Childress, CEO of Global MedChoices, one of a growing number of medical tourism companies.

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Medical Tourists Can Speed Through U.S.-Mexico Border Crossing

Fronteras, 5/3/12

The Mexican border town of Mexicali is making a push for more tourists from the American Southwest to visit that city’s dentists, surgeons and doctors. Starting April 30, medical tourists from the U.S. with the right documents will be able to skip much of the wait on the Mexican side of the border by using a new designated medical tourism lane.

Mexicali’s tourism director, Omar Dipp, says the new lane is one part of the city’s plan to boost medical tourism by 50 percent. “So you can drive to Mexicali, take care of your health, and you can only do 20 minutes to cross the border instead of two hours,” Dipp said.

Foreign patients will be able to request a pass from Mexican doctors who are participating in the program. That pass, plus a doctor’s receipt and foreign license plates, will allow patients access to the special lane. Once in the lane, vehicles are supposed to be able to bypass the traffic on the Mexican side of the border crossing, and cut to nearly the front of the line.

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Medical tourism: A faraway health fix

The Chicago Tribune, 8/3/11

When Stan Long’s doctor told him he needed prostate surgery, the unpleasant procedure bothered him less than the part of the price tag he’d be on the hook for: $15,000 for the hospital stay his Medicare plan didn’t cover.

So Long, who lives in Washington state, followed the lead of a friend who had been going to Mexico for inexpensive dental work, and headed south for a better deal.

With the help of medical tourism facilitator Planet Hospital, last summer Long flew to San Diego, where he was picked up by a limousine that drove him two hours to a hospital in Mexicali. After the four-hour TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate) procedure to remove a section of his prostrate blocking urine flow, Long spent the night, and the next day the limousine driver, who doubled as an interpreter, drove him back.

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Medical Tourism: Deal-seekers flock to Mexico for health care

San Francisco Chronicle, 9/22/2010

What did you bring back from your last trip to Mexico? A blanket from Oaxaca? Criollo chocolate from Chiapas? Leather boots from Valladolid? A growing number of U.S. visitors are coming home with a new hip, a repaired hernia, capped teeth, a lap band or a rejuvenated face.

Medical tourism is becoming a greater force in Mexico’s economy as efforts to reform the U.S. health care system fall victim to political maneuvering. As the tenacious recession leaves more Americans without jobs — or working for employers who can no longer afford to provide insurance — adding a medical procedure to the vacation itinerary looks increasingly attractive. The U.S. government doesn’t keep statistics, but based on trends in the past several years, the Mexican government is expecting the number of visitors seeking medical treatment there to reach 650,000 annually by 2020.

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Health costs send many to Mexico, study finds

Sacramento Bee, 5/27/2009

hospitalNearly a million Californians, perhaps hundreds of thousands more, cross the border to Mexico every year because they cannot afford the rising cost of health care in the United States, according to UCLA researchers.

The study by the school’s Center for Health Policy Research, published Tuesday in the journal Medical Care, affirms what has long been suspected – that the untamable cost of medicine is forcing many, particularly Latino immigrants, to look outside California for medical and dental care. As casualties from the recession rise and as budget-strapped government programs eliminate health services, more people are expected to head south to fill prescriptions, get teeth fixed or undergo care for chronic illnesses.

According to the study, at least 952,000 California adults – 488,000 of them described by the study as Mexican immigrants and about a quarter as non-Latino whites – head south annually for their medical, dental and prescription services.

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Mexico the new dental destination

Chicago Tribune, 3/24/2009

mexico-dentist2The sales pitches start just a few steps after you cross the border into Mexico. They come in the same half-whispers familiar to tourists who have been offered time-shares and T-shirts.

“Excuse me, sir,” a Mexican man politely asks in accented English. “Are you looking for a good dentist?”

“Got one,” a silver-haired American says, not even breaking stride.

This is the kind of commerce that has turned a sleepy village on the U.S. border into the latest boomtown of medical tourism, the practice of traveling abroad to get medical care. From face-lifts in Costa Rica to heart surgery in India, medical tourism has become a $60 billion enterprise by one estimate.

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