Uninsured El Paso Residents Cross Border for Health Care
A study published in the Journal of the National Medical Association, finds that El Paso residents, who are without health insurance coverage, may be risking health by buying medicines and seeking health treatment across the Texas-Mexico border in Ciudad Juarez.
The study is the first report examining the trend of cross border health care. Approximately thirty-three percent of El Pasoans are now driven across border to buy medications and obtain health service because they have no health insurance.
Victor Cardenas, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H, associate professor of epidemiology at the University Of Texas School Of Public Health says, "The border region is underinsured and underserved in terms of healthcare provision. It is a major concern that clearly plays a role in the cross-border healthcare phenomenon."
The study also found that educated, financially stable residents of Ciudad Juarez were also more likely to cross the border to obtain health care in the US. Men, as opposed to women often come to the US to buy medication with cash.
The study from Dr. Cardenas also found that 59.6 percent residents of El Paso and 82.8 percent of Ciudad Juarez residents have no healthcare insurance.
Crossing borders to obtain health care can pose health risks. According to the authors, buying medication in another country can be dangerous from drugs that may be laced with toxic chemicals, counterfeited, or dispensed and prepared by unqualified personnel.
There are no laws in Texas that can prevent El Paso residents without health insurance from crossing the border to buy medications and health care services. However, most diagnoses are made across the pharmacy counter by nonprofessionals, making the practice less than desirable.
Making health insurance affordable to US residents may stop the trend of buying medications and health services across the border, seen in one third of El Paso residents in the study. Cross border, health care, delivered by nonprofessionals, is not without risk.