Cross-border utilization of health care: evidence from a population-based study in south Texas

Health Serv Res. 2011 Jun;46(3):859-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2010.01220.x. Epub 2010 Dec 15.


Objective: To assess the prevalence of health care utilization in Mexico by Texas border residents and to identify the main contributing factors to their cross-border utilization of health care services.

Data and methods: This study used primary data from a population-based telephone survey that was conducted in the whole Texas border area in 2008. The survey included responses from 1,405 adults. Multivariate logistic regression models were estimated to determine predictors of utilizing a wide range of health care services in Mexico.

Principal findings: Forty-nine percent of the sample reported having ever purchased medications in Mexico, followed by 41 percent for dentist visits, 37.3 percent for doctor visits, and 6.7 percent for inpatient care. The most significant predictors of health care utilization in Mexico were lack of U.S. health insurance coverage, dissatisfaction with the quality of U.S. health care, and poor self-rated health status.

Conclusions: The high prevalence of use of health care services in Mexico by Texas border residents is suggestive of unmet needs in health care on the U.S. side of the border. Addressing these unmet needs calls for a binational approach to improve the affordability, accessibility, and quality of health care in the U.S.-Mexico border region.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dental Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Medical Tourism / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medically Uninsured
  • Mexico
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Office Visits / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pharmaceutical Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Texas