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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


BYRD, Theresa L.  and  LAW, Jon G.. Cross-border utilization of health care services by United States residents living near the Mexican border. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2009, vol.26, n.2, pp.95-100. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVES: To determine what proportion of El Paso (Texas, United States of America) residents access health care services in Mexico, which services they use, and why they cross for care. METHODS: A cross-sectional, telephone survey of El Paso County residents was conducted from October-November 2007 to determine use of health care services in Mexico. At total of 2560 telephone interviews were completed. Descriptive statistics and Chi-square analysis were used to determine the proportion crossing the US-Mexico border for care and identify correlates of crossing. RESULTS: The proportion of El Paso residents that had crossed into Mexico for some type of health care service during the two years prior to the survey interview was 32.5%. Of border crossers, 27.1% used health services; 63.2%, dental services; 82.0%, pharmacy; and 9.8%, traditional healers. Reasons given were cost, lack of health insurance, language barriers, and convenience. Hispanic ethnicity, having lived in Ciudad Juárez, being uninsured, and younger age were associated with crossing. The majority were satisfied with the health services received. CONCLUSIONS: Crossing the border to access health care services in Mexico is not uncommon for US residents living in El Paso County, Texas. Given the high rate of uninsured in the United States and the increasingly stringent security requirements, health policies may be needed that allow for cross-border care, making use of this alternative health care system easier and safer.

Keywords : Health policies; health care surveys; border areas; Mexico; United States.

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