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Salud Publica Mex. 1991 Sep-Oct;33(5):463-74.

[Bi-national utilization of health services in the Mexico-United States border: the case of the population of Tijuana].

[Article in Spanish]

Author information

  • 1Coordinadora del Area de Investigación, Proyecto CONCERN, México.


The U.S.-Mexico border is a region where two neighboring countries share a dynamic exchange of cultural, demographic and economic activities. Regarding the use of health services, there is growing concern among American officials that part of the indigent health care burden in the Southwestern United States may be caused by residents of Mexico who cross the border to use U.S. health services. If this is true, it could be the result of unmet needs in the Mexican health care system which spill over across the border. This article examines the extent and volume of use of health care services by Tijuana residents in both countries. It also identifies the factors that predict the use of U.S. health services. The data reported were obtained from a community survey, conducted in June 1987, based on a random sample of 660 households. The results reveal that despite the geographical proximity and a tradition among Mexican border residents to consume American products, when it comes to health services, the local Mexican health care system is prefered. In fact, the use of Tijuana based services is 16 times higher than in the U.S. The users of services in the U.S. tend to choose the private sector and pay out of pocket. The findings indicate that socioeconomic status, sex and age are significant predictors of U.S. service utilization. We conclude that the low demand for U.S. services does not interfere with Mexico's health system. However, we recommend that future studies assess the extent of use of Tijuana services by U.S. residents, so that we can assess the magnitude of cross border utilization.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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