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  • HealthCARE Lab

Health Diaries: Eva'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.

Health Diaries: Eva’s Journey; Job Title: Utilities service worker; Family Size: single with children at home; Education Level: some college; Location: Corpus Christi, TX; Services and Goods Bought: Prescription drugs, Dentistry, Herbal/Medicinal teas; Annual Expenditure in Mexico for Healthcare: $100.00

Eva is comfortable acquiring healthcare for the two adopted children she is raising in the United States. Their pediatrician is very friendly and accommodating, and she feels that the care at the practice demonstrates a great deal of compassion for the children. She also feels comfortable receiving care for mundane issues from a nurse practitioner who works in her office building. She receives this care for free under her insurance coverage even though she opted for a high deductible plan through her employer that costs less monthly than some of the alternatives.

Eva does not have a particularly positive relationship with her family practitioner and tries to go to this practice as little as possible for her own ailments. She does not experience any feelings of connection or compassion from this practitioner and reports that she is very uncomfortable whenever she goes for her yearly checkup, believing her doctor is taking advantage of her insurance coverage instead of genuinely caring about her health.

Eva believes money is the only thing people care about in the United States. She suspects that a cure for cancer exists, but that American doctors are keeping it a secret "because they want to profit from it." She travels to Mexico for care because she has greater trust in Mexican practitioners, and she feels more at ease taking antibiotics from Mexico than from the United States. She goes to Mexico for dental work, antibiotics, gel ointment for pain, herbal tea, weight loss tea, tightening gel, and penicillin for herself and her five children (including the three who are grown).

She describes the practice of stocking up on antibiotics as cultural and “hereditary” and that her mother and grandmother always had penicillin from Mexico in the house. She describes many home remedies that she learned from them and still uses today such as using an egg to pull the evil out of a person who feels sick. She grew up without medical insurance, so she was used to going to a curandera, or spiritual healer. Her trust in the antibiotics from Mexico comes from faith as well as convenience—and skepticism in the motives of care providers in the United States.

Eva tells us about an experience where her family was escaping a hurricane and ended up crossing to Mexico to pass the time. While there, she saw the prices of dental work and ended up getting her chipped tooth fixed for $30. Though she now utilizes her dental insurance in the U.S., her older children still go to Mexico for dental care.

She has also thought about getting Lasik or gastric bypass surgery in Mexico due to the price, but only seriously considered Lasik because her sister-in-law had a successful experience—she remains hesitant about the gastric bypass. She doesn’t buy cough medicine in Mexico because she doesn’t know much about it and warns her friends about buying weight loss pills in Mexico, though she does enjoy more natural methods and buys weight loss teas when she’s there.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Eva travelled to Mexico about once a month with family, but the visits have since been reduced to twice a year. They spend time shopping and enjoying the day when they go. Eva is considering finding a primary care physician in Mexico, even though she is aware of the prevalence of violence in the area she visits. She considers it well worth the risk to obtain superior, trustworthy healthcare.


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