Analysis of medical tourism at the Andrade port of entry

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Journal of the American Pharmacists Association


Background: Medical tourism, a term used to describe the practice of traveling to obtain medical services or products, is known to occur along the U.S.–Mexico border and has for some time. Despite the ever-increasing number of local border crossings, there is little research or monitoring done on the prevalence of medical tourism or to show the products and services sought. Objectives: To identify which medications and services are most frequently obtained, the reasons for these instances of medical tourism, perceived efficacy or satisfaction of the medications and services, and the likelihood of continuing to receive health care in Mexico. Methods: Using a cross-sectional survey design, participants were recruited to participate in an anonymous electronic 12-question survey at or near the U.S.–Mexico border at the Andrade port of entry. All participants were waiting to cross or had just crossed the border through this port. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results: A total of 427 surveys were collected for analysis. The respondents reported traveling from 29 states within the United States, as well as from 3 other countries. The average age of the participants was 64.5 years, with a range of 19-93 years. Cost was reported by 92% (n = 394) as the major factor to participate in medical tourism, and the most common income bracket reported was between $25,001 and $50,000 annually (n = 103). Dental (n = 124) was the most common medical service, and antibiotics (n = 225) were the most common class of medications sought. Most of the participants expressed the intent to continue to participate in medical tourism (n = 404). Conclusion: Most survey respondents felt that Mexican health care services are of the same or better quality compared with those in the United States, for a lower cost, and plan to participate in medical tourism moving forward. Many opportunities for future research exist on this topic, including follow-up surveys and laboratory analyses to compare medication samples.

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