This story is part of the Health Diaries series where we report the struggles and actions of Americans who, despite having insurance, must cross the border into Mexico to get the healthcare they need.
Antonio recently started his new job as an IT professional at a tech company which provides him with insurance. Heis great at knowing what a customer needs. He doesn’t have much free time to spare, but he loves to cook and play with his dog.
Medical autonomy is very important to Antonio, and he tries to go for a holistic approach whenever possible. He is grateful that his insurance covers some options, but he does not like the insurance system in general, since he has been in the emergency room and had to walk out because they couldn’t tell him an estimate of how much his visit would be or what would be covered. He felt unsupported and as if he was being treated like just a number. He feels like the medical system in the United States is very transactional and that he can’t build a relationship with his doctors. It feels like a circus from the minute he tries to make an appointment. He likes the more holistic approach of the doctors in Mexico, and the freedom he has to get what he needs without approval from insurance or waiting months for an appointment.
Antonio goes to Mexico about once a week, but his trips can be sporadic. He can get to Mexico City in 3 hours by plane. He often goes to see family or fun, but sometimes to get any medical care he may need. He goes to a dentist there whenever he needs a cleaning, filling or something basic, and an orthodontist in a different city that he trusts to give him good, complete treatment when he needs it, both recommended by family. He also enjoys acupuncture, massages, and chiropractor visits and says there are a variety of other kinds of healing methods available.
Living next to the border is very convenient for him because he can be there quickly to visit family, see the doctors, and buy any medications he may need. He feels the flu, allergy, and pain medications are easier to get and often more effective in Mexico. He understands the risks of self-medicating but feels that sometimes he knows what he needs. In Mexico, he can get what he needs in 15 minutes, but if he went to a pharmacy in the U.S., they would say to schedule an appointment, get tests done, and potentially see a specialist to get the same thing he knew he needed. He feels that’s a waste of time and money. He is very clear that while things in Mexico are cheaper, the convenience is what is most important to him, and he judges doctors based on experience and recommendation. If he finds the right doctor,it doesn’t matter to him if it’s in the U.S. or in Mexico. In Mexico he feels more in control and is treated like a person as opposed to feeling like a number when seeing doctors in the U.S. He feels he can actually talk with his doctor in Mexico and is treated with more warmth.