Health Diaries: Nina'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.
Nina is the head of a nonprofit living in McAllen, Texas with her husband and 2 kids. As a child, Nina’s father had a business in Mexico, so her family would spend a lot of time there even after moving to Texas about 13 years ago.
This is her first year having insurance, aside from temporary Medicaid when she was pregnant, and she has struggled finding adequate healthcare. When she and her husband tried to utilize their vision insurance, the cost was still too expensive, and they decided to go to Mexico instead. Nina really appreciates the relationship her family has with her kid’s pediatrician, who is originally from Mexico. He takes time to build a relationship and explain things clearly. She was hoping to build a relationship like this with a doctor for herself because having a doctor that cares and having her records in one place is important to her. When visiting an OBGYN in the states, Nina felt rushed and uncared for. She didn’t even see the doctor, just a PA who didn’t show her the attention or care that she needed.
For now, Nina and her family stock up in Mexico on flu medication, antibiotics, pain meds, her mother’s diabetes medication, and acne cream for her kids. Additionally, they all visit the dentist in Mexico for cleanings, surgery, or braces as well as the optometrist when needed. Her husband has also gotten hemorrhoid surgery in Mexico after shopping for the right doctor in the U.S., the referrals were taking too long, and her husband was in a lot of pain. They ultimately got a recommendation to a doctor in Mexico. Nina said she felt comfortable because she trusted the doctor, but normally would not get major surgery in Mexico due to the possibility of inadequate equipment, not the competence of the doctors. Nina also tries to get her weekly shopping done in Mexico including meat, candy, teas, special items, salsa, crackers. Her last purchase was laser hair removal for her and her daughter, at a place she trusts and has gone for years.
Nina and her husband try to get their care in the U.S. but it's just so hard. They feel like their insurance hasn’t done much and they are forced to have it for tax purposes. She is annoyed by the wait times and referral process in the U.S. and feels that she waited for insurance for so long and was ultimately let down. Eventually, Nina would like to get all their healthcare done in the United States because they have built a community in Texas and don’t even visit friends or family in Mexico anymore. Money and time play a big role in why they continue to get things done in Mexico.