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Public Health Rep. 1990 Nov-Dec;105(6):575-83.

Measuring Tijuana residents' choice of Mexican or U.S. health care services.

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1
School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley 94720.

Abstract

There is growing concern that the indigent health care burden in the southwestern United States may be caused partly by Mexican residents who cross the border to use U.S. health services. This article describes the first attempt to measure the extent of this use by border residents. It also compares factors associated with their use of health care services in both the United States and Mexico. Data were obtained from a household survey conducted in Tijuana, Mexico, near the California border, using a random, stratified analytic sample of 660 households that included a total of 2,954 persons. The dependent variables--extent and volume of contacts with health professionals--were examined according to sociodemographic characteristics, insurance coverage, payment modality, type of visit, and health care setting. The results indicate that 40.3 percent of the Tijuana population used health services exclusively in Mexico during a 6-month period, compared with only 2.5 percent who used services in the United States. Of the Mexican users of U.S. services, the largest proportion appeared to be older people, lawful permanent residents or citizens of the United States who are living in Mexico, and persons from high- or middle-income sectors. In addition to the low level of use of U.S. health services, the findings show that more than 84 percent of the visits were to providers in the private sector and, for 59 percent of the visits, a fee for services was implied. Overall, this border population does not seem to be a drain on the U.S. public health system. The findings must remain tentative, given some methodological constraints of the study; they point to the need for further assessments of the demand for specific services by distinct segments of the border population. Furthermore,since health care financing is a critical issue for Mexico as well, more studies are needed that examine the behavior of U.S. residents who use Mexican health services.

PMID:
2124358
PMCID:
PMC1580173
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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