Mexico northern border, largest recipient of foreign patients in Medical Tourism


In 2017 almost 40 million international tourists were received, a figure that placed the country, for the first time, in sixth place out of the 10 most visited in the world. According to the Secretary of Tourism of the Federal Government -SECTUR-, of the total number of tourists who entered last year, more than 1.7 million arrived for medical reasons.

The demand of people from the United States and Canada have made Mexico have a large market that travels in search of treatments. The northern part of the Mexican Republic stands out for its closeness to the United States, the world’s largest consumer of health services abroad, due to the fact that its private health system, despite being one of the  most sophisticated and advanced in the world, is also one of the most expensive, so that part of the population does not cover the necessary expenses.

The cost difference in Mexico is 35% to 85% cheaper than in the United States, for example, a bypass coronary artery has a cost in the US of 123,000 US dollars vs 27 thousand dollars in Mexico -data of the Medical Tourism Association -.

Tijuana, Baja California is one of the Mexican cities that stand out most in the reception of foreign patients, since it offers medical services accompanied by traditional sun and beach destinations; only in 2017, it received 11.5 million international tourists. According to the Tourism and Convention Committee of Tijuana – Cotuco, medical tourism had an impact on hotel occupancy that reached 90-95% with a spill of 8.2 million dollars in the same year.

The National Medical System -Simnsa- reported that annually receives more than half a million health tourists, of which almost 90% are of Latino origin, from southern California and 10% of Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

Modifications to Obamacare that potentiate the industry in Mexico

The growth of Tijuana within the industry is due – in part – to the existing problem between the administration of Donald Trump and the “Obamacare” that generates a cost for the American government of more than 100 billion dollars. So the current president has sought to eliminate it, or at least, has tried to make changes such as the expansion of temporary insurance that are cheaper but less complete.

What overtime would translate into sick people who will not be able to access the medical services of their country since the contracted policy would not have the necessary coverage for their suffering? So companies within the health sector have come to Mexico in search of spaces to invest and carry out projects that detonate the 
growth of Medical Tourism in border cities.

According to Ing. Towle, the Medicare system “is completely overrun; and one of the things that would help both countries is that here in Mexico they would take care of the people who do not have access to the service there as long as the insurance covers medical expenses on this side. With what our country could grow up to 10 times the current, “he said.

Such is the case of the New City Medical Plaza, a development that is being built in the city of Tijuana, 500 meters from the border with San Diego, which will have a Neurological Center; clinical, pathological and imaging laboratories; certified operating rooms as an intermediate care unit; short stay hospitalization; physical rehabilitation center with pool; Recovery Boutique Hotel; and a commercial area.

It is a land of 8 thousand square meters, with a construction area of 70 thousand square meters, where you will find specialties of plastic surgery, bariatric surgery, dentists, cardiologists, among others. With what is expected 800 thousand patients each year.

Security determining factor?

One of the main obstacles to the development of this industry is the insecurity experienced by the northern states, entities such as Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas have increased the rate of homicide, 
femicide -18.41% – and narcomenudeo -35.77% -, compared to the previous year, this, according to the National Citizen Observatory.

However, these data have not been an impediment for foreign tourists to visit the cities in search of medical attention, since the authorities have indicated that the insecurity has not affected the economy and tourism of the State of Baja California. In fact, 2017 was one of the best years for Tijuana since 20, since it left an economic disbursement of one thousand 50 million dollars, which represents 3.5% of  Foreign Direct Investment -IED- captured by the country -Cotuco-.

For the manager of Softec, insecurity is not the main problem in the industry “I am not taking away the importance, but it is not more or less great than in other parts of the world” the biggest challenge, he considers, is the diffusion of the industry, given that Mexico is one of the  countries with the lowest investment in tourism advertising, concluded the Softec Managing Partner .

The Mazatlan Post