Mexico Gearing Up for U.S. Healthcare Patients

After Obamacare, where will Americans go for quality care?

To Mexico, that’s where.

The ink was still drying on the President’s signature on the government takeover of American healthcare, when a notice went out from the Institute of the Americas at the University of California San Diego advertising a conference for April 21 entitled "The Future of Health Care for Americans in Mexico."

Mexico has always been the place where Americans can get whatever’s banned in America. Alcohol during Prohibition (and underage drinking since), gambling before Indian casinos, Cuban cigars, power plants generating electricity for California that don’t meet California environmental standards, maids and gardeners, illegal drugs. You get the idea. All along the border, Americans have always relied on Mexico to provide what we really want but publicly oppose.

Legal drugs too. In the debate a few years ago about prescription drugs, the availability of cheaper drugs in Canada was widely reported in the U.S., in part because the narrative fit the media template of extolling government-run healthcare as better and cheaper. Never mind the thousands of Canadians who come to the U.S. for treatment in a timely fashion—those stories didn’t fit the template and were widely ignored.

But for decades, Americans near the Mexican border have traveled South to buy (much) cheaper prescription drugs. Given that it’s Mexico, in the same way that Americans should be wary of the authenticity of the street vendor "Cuban" cigar, customers should check the prescription packaging carefully to detect tampering or dilution. But the same drugs and over-the-counter remedies available in the U.S. are available just a few miles away in Mexico for much less.

So too with medical care. Mexican dentists along the border do a land rush business from American customers. Many an eye glass wearer in El Paso bought those glasses in Juarez. Many an American women "on vacation" in Mexico is recovering from cosmetic surgery in a plush Mexican spa.

Quackery thrives in Mexico, too. Got cancer ? Here, take this ground up apricot pit. Right alongside quackery, however, the best medical procedures, practiced by a growing number of excellent Mexican and foreign doctors, flourishes. While official Mexico is a democratically elected powerful central government, the underground economy is traditionally laissez faire.

Might Mexico be the place where many of the disaffected 42% of American doctors go who, in a New England Journal of Medicine poll, who said that they would retire or leave medicine if Obamacare passed ?

Mexicans sense that Obamacare is an opportunity to offer world class medical care to cash paying American patients fleeing the new bureaucratic restraints.

The notice of the "timely" seminar at UCSD describes the situation: "The healthcare reform bill in the United States points to the likelihood of increased demand for differentiated, good, and affordable healthcare options. We believe that this conference will awaken interest in the possibilities and will serve to inform about what is already happening, who the players are, and what is being done to promote health care tourism."

The seminar is open to "anyone wishing to learn more about cross-border healthcare delivery."

Could there be any more revealing judgment about Obamacare than this from the underground capitalist economy of Mexico?


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