Crossing the border for health care

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2001 Feb;12(1):77-87. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2010.0643.


A survey was administered to adults attending a health fair in south Los Angeles County, approximately 140 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. The survey revealed that 14 percent of respondents had crossed the border to seek medical care during the past year. Nearly 80 percent of respondents crossing the border for medical care were uninsured, while 70 percent reported the low cost of medical care obtained across the border as being the most common reason for seeking care there. Twenty-eight percent of respondents reported purchasing medication in Mexico, with antibiotics and pain medication being reported in highest frequency. Ninety percent of these respondents were uninsured. This study shows that the high cost of health care and lack of insurance compels the poor and uninsured to seek low-cost health care and medication in Mexico to meet their most urgent health care needs, despite the burden of cost and travel.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dental Care
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs
  • Health Care Surveys*
  • Health Fairs
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles / ethnology
  • Male
  • Medically Uninsured
  • Mexico
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / economics
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / supply & distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uncompensated Care


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations