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  • HealthCARE Lab

Health Diaries: Emily's Journey

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.

Emily works for the school district and enjoys putting smiles on people’s faces. She came to the U.S. about 10 years ago. She recognizes the advantages and disadvantages of healthcare in the U.S. and reflects on why she prefers care in Mexico, even while covered by insurance.

She has enjoyed that her insurance includes a yearly check-up because in Mexico, she never got preventative care, it was normal for her to just go when she felt sick. She is happy to have someone monitoring her health as she found out she is prediabetic last year.

Emily has really enjoyed her PCP and has been with her for 5 years. She wanted a doctor that she could communicate with in Spanish so that she could fully express herself and understand any diagnoses. She reached out to a trusted coworker and friend who recommended this doctor to her.

The first thing Emily noticed when meeting with her doctor for the first time was the difference between an intake in Mexico versus in the U.S. She was used to hour long consultations and very chatty, personable doctors in her hometown of Monterrey, Mexico. In the U.S., she felt a little rushed and that her doctor was very serious. Over time, Emily has been able to explain to her doctor in San Antonio what she needs and feels like their relationship has improved. Emily still likes to call her cousins in Monterrey, who are doctors, just to get their opinion as someone who knows her, but they always remind her to check with her doctor for anything serious.

While Emily is mostly happy with her insurance and primary care physician, there are still things she prefers to get in Mexico due to cost and quality. She has a dentist in Mexico who she could see day-of if she wanted to. While she does have vision covered by insurance, she can’t pass up paying only $15 dollars for an exam and glasses in Mexico. The service in Mexico feels more “humanized” to her. She is clear that both places have good and bad, but she feels more confident going over to Mexico and being with “her own people.”

Emily goes to Mexico about 2-3 times a year with her husband and son anyway just to see family, so she tries to plan her dental and eye doctor visits for when she goes. She likes the service in Mexico because rapport is easier to build, and it is more flexible and convenient. She doesn’t like that she always has to wait for her appointments in the U.S. unless it’s an emergency. Her U.S. based doctor approves of her saving money by getting vision and dental care there. Emily has a great relationship with her dentist in Mexico and loves catching up with him when she goes. If she didn’t have to worry about money, Emily says she would still go to her Dentist in Mexico because of their strong relationship. However, Emily admits that if she didn’t have family to visit or another purpose for her trip, she would try to get her care in the U.S.


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