Mexican Immigrants in the US Living Far from the Border may Return to Mexico for Health Services

Program in Human Biology, Stanford University, 33 Pond Avenue, Suite 722, Brookline, Stanford, CA 02445, USA.
Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health (Impact Factor: 1.16). 01/2009; 12(4):610-4. DOI: 10.1007/s10903-008-9213-8
Source: PubMed


This study explores to what extent and why Mexican immigrants in the U.S. living far from the border return to Mexico for medical services.
Structured Spanish-language qualitative interviews were completed with a crosssectional sample of 10 Central Mexican immigrants living in Northern California and with 10 physicians and 25 former immigrants living in Central Mexico.
Sixteen of the 35 current and former immigrants (46%) said they or a close friend or relative had returned to Mexico from the U.S. for health-related reasons. Participants returned to Mexico for care due to unsuccessful treatment in the U.S., the difficulty of accessing care in the U.S. and preference for Mexican care.
Obtaining care in Mexico appears to be common. These findings have implications for the maintenance of continuity of care, for Mexico's healthcare system, and for the impact of changing border policies on immigrant health.

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    • "Combined with feeling comfortable and safe, and overcoming cultural and linguistic barriers, this seemed to outweigh travel expenses [16]. Mexicans living far from the border in the US sought medical treatment in Mexico due to unsuccessful treatment in the US, lack of (financial) access to care in the US, and a preference for Mexican care [17]. For Californian Mexicans (living relatively closer to the border), the predictors of cross-border healthcare use by immigrants were found to be: need, lack of health insurance, delay in the seeking of care, more recent immigration and limited English language proficiency [13]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Healthcare obtained abroad may conflict with care received in the country of residence. A special concern for immigrants has been raised as they may have stronger links to healthcare services abroad. Our objective was to investigate use of healthcare in a foreign country in Turkish immigrants, their descendants, and ethnic Danes. Methods The study was based on a nationwide survey in 2007 with 372 Turkish immigrants, 496 descendants, and 1,131 ethnic Danes aged 18–66. Data were linked to registry data on socioeconomic factors. Using logistic regression models, use of doctor, specialist doctor, hospital, dentist in a foreign country as well as medicine from abroad were estimated. Analyses were adjusted for socioeconomic factors and health symptoms. Results Overall, 26.6% among Turkish immigrants made use of cross-border healthcare, followed by 19.4% among their descendants to 6.7% among ethnic Danes. Using logistic regression models with ethnic Danes as the reference group, Turkish immigrants were seen to have made increased use of general practitioners, specialist doctors, hospitals, and dentists in a foreign country (odds ratio (OR), 5.20-6.74), while Turkish descendants had made increased use of specialist doctors (OR, 4.97) and borderline statistically significant increased use of hospital (OR, 2.48) and dentist (OR, 2.17) but not general practitioners. For medicine, we found no differences among the men, but women with an immigrant background made considerably greater use, compared with ethnic Danish women. Socioeconomic position and health symptoms had a fairly explanatory effect on the use in the different groups. Conclusions Use of cross-border healthcare may have consequences for the continuity of care, including conflicts in the medical treatment, for the patient. Nonetheless, it may be aligned with the patient’s preferences and thereby beneficial for the patient. We need more information about reasons for obtaining cross-border healthcare among immigrants residing in European countries, and the consequences for the patient and the healthcare systems, including the quality of care. The Danish healthcare system needs to be aware of the significant healthcare consumption by immigrants, especially medicine among women, outside Denmark’s borders.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · BMC Health Services Research
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    • "Insurance and Medical returns: unpacking the " Uninsured " category Many studies suggest that Mexico serves as a convenient " escape valve " primarily for Latinos who lack health care insurance (Bastida et al., 2008; Bergmark et al., 2008). Our data suggests a more complicated relationship between lack of insurance and medical returns, however. "
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    ABSTRACT: Despite the growing prevalence of transnational medical travel among immigrant groups in industrialized nations, relatively little scholarship has explored the diverse reasons immigrants return home for care. To date, most research suggests that cost, lack of insurance and convenience propel US Latinos to seek health care along the Mexican border. Yet medical returns are common even among Latinos who do have health insurance and even among those not residing close to the border. This suggests that the distinct culture of medicine as practiced in the border clinics Latinos visit may be as important a factor in influencing medical returns as convenience and cost.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · Social Science [?] Medicine
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    • "Migration status and socio-economic factors are central to determining the frequency with which migrants are able to return to their countries of origin for care – if they can do so at all. Bergmark et al. (2008: 4) find that, for Mexican migrants living far from the US/Mexico border, returning to Mexico is 'a major decision due to the distance, time, cost, and possible legal ramifications of the trip… The benefits of returning to Mexico tend to outweigh these challenges only in cases of severe illness or crisis'. Horton and Cole (2011), meanwhile, demonstrate that private clinics along the US-Mexican border have relatively localised catchments. "

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