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Study finds medical and dental care south of the border are good options for Americans

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SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Most Americans have probably never heard of Los Algodones, Mexico, which sits across the border just southwest of Yuma, Ariz.

But when it comes to dental care, a lot of people seem to know exactly where it is.

A recent survey conducted by Healthcare.com shows Los Algodones is one of the most popular foreign destinations for Americans seeking work on their teeth.

The same study suggests dental and medical care in Mexico could be a good alternative for people living in the U.S.

“It’s likely less costly, most of the time the quality of care is going to be as good and it’s a way to stretch your budget,” said Jeff Smedsrud, Co-founder of Healthcare.com. “There are significant savings opportunities, 20 to 50 to 70 percent, it’s absolutely to the benefit of consumers to consider traveling to a different country for different kinds of procedures.”

Smedsrud said many of the doctors providing care to Americans in Mexico were actually trained in the United States and apply the same medical standards found north of the border.

Jeff Smedsrud is the co-founder of Healthcare.com (Courtesy photo)

“It is important, too, to look at those credentials just in the same way you would if you had with any provider here at home,” he said.

Smedsrud says more and more Americans are heading south and numbers have picked up a lot since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Our mission is to help consumers make better choices about health care and better choices about health care financing and insurance plans, ignoring the rest of the world is not a good decision, we need to push the U.S. healthcare industry to say it’s not a monopoly, people have choices.”

And Smedsrud stated people who live along the southern border enjoy an advantage over people in the rest of the country, especially if their healthcare provider or Medicare are willing to pay for medical and dental procedures.

“Although Medicare typically doesn’t cover across the border, if the most appropriate and nearest facility is across the border, Medicare will make an exception and pay for those services. So in the middle of Minnesota, that’s probably not the nearest facility, in El Paso Texas, could be,” he said. “You have to look at what is the cost analysis; you’re saving $1,000 on a procedure, but may be incurring $500 in travel expenses and you may need to recuperate for a day or two outside the country, all that has to be balanced in order to make the right decision, but certainly worth exploring for consumers.”

Here are some of the findings in the study:

  • During the pandemic, Americans continued to go abroad for care.
  • In 2020, an estimated 290,000 Americans went abroad for dental and medical procedures. (The previous year, some 780,000 sought outbound services.)
  • Medical travel has largely rebounded to pre-pandemic levels while spending has increased 20% to 50%.
  • Americans are traveling abroad to save anywhere from 50% to 80% on medical and dental procedures.
  • In Mexico, root canals are 80% cheaper and in vitro fertilization 75.5%.
  • Americans are traveling to popular cities like Tijuana and Cancun for procedures such as in vitro fertilization and breast augmentation.
  • Los Algodones and Mexico City are recommended for full arch reconstruction and dental implants.
  • Hermosillo is ideal for bariatric surgery.
  • And Americans choose Juarez for laser eye surgery.

For a cost comparison of procedures between Mexico and the U.S., click here.

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