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Uninsured El Paso Residents Cross Border for Health Care

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

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.

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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.




Hi my daughter has an insurance that her father bought (of course cheap $40 dollars a month with a deductible of $7500.00) on Thursday I found my daughter unconsious at my living room ambulance came to my house an after one of the paramedics told me that she was faking and still they couldn't make her come out of her faking being unconcious we decided that they take her to emergency at Thomason General Hospital and after all test, CAT scan, blood, urine, x-rays and pregnancy test they came to the conclusion that she was in perfect health condition, an that the headache she was still complaining would go away by resting, but before they release her to me I ask the nurse in term to check out her tonsils because the school nurse had told my daughter she had pus on one of tonsils so this educated nurse check my daughters tonsils and said that they were fine no infection at all, I took my daughter home I didn't went to work next day to take care of my daughter and watch over how she would be doing , came 12:00 p.m. she started complaining about the headaches. her headaches were so bad that she was crying to take her to emergency room cause she couldn't stand them, we put her inside my truck and I made the decision of instead emergency room, I would take her to my doctor in JUAREZ, we got to his office and he examine her, and got mad cause he said "your daughter has a big infection on her tonsils how could this people didn't see that, this child can die like this, that's why the headache, the fainting, the dizzinness, so he gave my daughter medication and I'm not lying to you guys from my doctors office to Santa Fe Bridge my daughter stop complaining about headaches and she was sitting with me at the truck, and today is Sunday and I'm seeing my daughter way much better than Friday when nurses at the emergency room release her and told me that she was ok that nothing was wrong with her. PLEASE NURSES, DOCTORS BEFORE RELEASING A PATIENT FROM EMERGENCY MAKE SURE THAT PATIENT DONT HAVE ANY KIND OF TONSIL INFECTION THAT CAN CAUSE SOMEONE HER/HIS LIFE THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS INFECTION IT CAUSE A LOT OF DAMANGE TO A HUMAN BEING
I reviewed the original UT news release on this at http://www.uthouston.edu/media/newsreleases/nr2009/index.htm?id=1209829, and I'm afraid that Ms. Blanchard got the uninsured / insured statistics backwards.
Thank you Dr. Elson - I corrected, and did indeed have the statistics about insured and uninsured El Paso residents reversed.