Many Texas residents cross Mexican border to obtain health care services

Research Activities, January 2012, No. 377

The U.S.-Mexico border stretches from San Diego, CA all the way to Brownsville, TX. Many residents living on the U.S. side of the border are poor and uninsured, and have difficulties accessing health care services. A new study reveals that many U.S.-border residents in Texas cross the border into Mexico for health care services.

Overall, 63.4 percent of those surveyed said they used one of the four types of health care services in Mexico: medications, visits to doctors, visits to dentists, and hospital admissions. Nearly half of respondents (49.3 percent) admitted to crossing the border to purchase medications in Mexico, 41 percent visited a doctor, and 37.3 percent visited a dentist. Inpatient care in Mexico had the lowest utilization rate among respondents at 6.7 percent. Factors associated with using health care services in Mexico included having no health insurance, being dissatisfied with the quality of care in the United States, and having poor self-reported health status.

The findings were based on responses to the Cross-Border Utilization of Health Care Survey. This was a telephone survey conducted in 2008 of residents living in 32 Texas counties within 62 miles of the Mexican border. Responses came from 1,405 adults who were mostly of Mexican origin. Participants were asked about seeking out health care services in Mexico. Nearly half of those participating had no health insurance coverage. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS17003).

See "Cross-border utilization of health care: Evidence from a population-based study in south Texas," by Dejun Su, Ph.D., Chad Richardson, Ph.D., Ming Wen, Ph.D., and Jose A. Pagan, Ph.D., in the June 2011 HSR: Health Services Research 46(3), pp. 859-876.

Current as of January 2012
Internet Citation: Many Texas residents cross Mexican border to obtain health care services: Research Activities, January 2012, No. 377. January 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/jan12/0112RA22.html