Sunday, November 06, 2005

Mexico Providing Our Health Care? 


TIJUANA, Mexico -- There are world-class hospitals in San Diego, not far from where Luis Gonzales lives. But when he or a member of his family needs a doctor, they drive 50 miles south to a clinic in Tijuana.

The Gonzaleses are members of a Blue Shield of California HMO that provides all of the family's nonemergency care in Mexico. They are among 20,000 California workers and their dependents in health plans that cost 40 to 50 percent less than comparable care in the United States because the doctor's visits are outsourced south of the border.

With health care costs in the United States continuing to rise, many employers in Southern California are turning to insurance plans that send their workers to Mexico for routine care, plans that are growing by nearly 3,000 people a year. And Gonzales, for his part, is happy about it.

"They have everything I need," Gonzales said. "They're clean. You don't see a difference between a doctor over here and over there."

Despite Gonzales's satisfaction with the quality of his family's care, the new trend has some medical professionals in the United States worried that care is being sacrificed to low prices.

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