We are talking about thousands of American citizens who cross the border every day in search of affordable dental care.
It is true that Latin Americans and Central Americans are coming to the United States fleeing violence and poverty, but there is another massive phenomenon of “crossing borders” in mass, and politicians have not said a word about it. We are talking about thousands of American citizens who cross the border every day in search of affordable dental care.
At a single checkpoint in Yuma, Arizona, up to 6,000 Americans cross the border every day and enter the bustling Mexican city of Los Algodones, seeking medical attention.
Unlike the U.S administration that seeks to build a wall between countries, Los Algodones welcomes Americans who seek dental care with open arms.
The Algodones must be seen to be believed. There are more dentists per capita than anywhere else in the world.
It seems that every square foot of the wall of the public space is covered with advertisements that promise dental, vision and quality prescription medicines at a good price.
The economy of the community is designed to serve the flood of “dental refugees,” mostly US and Canadian citizens who seek important dental care they can not afford in their own countries, even with insurance.
The statistics are discordant. Approximately 74 million people in the United States do not have dental insurance, according to the National Association of Dental Plans.
To put those numbers in perspective, that’s almost a quarter of the population, or roughly double the number that lacks health insurance in general.
But the problem is much bigger than people who lack dental insurance. Dental insurance is not really insurance. It’s nothing like a health insurance or car, for example.
Most dental plans do not cover much more than regular check-ups, cleanings, x-rays and fillings.
Beyond that, patients are expected to pay much of the cost of large but common procedures such as crowns, endodontics and implants.
Dental plans also generally pay a maximum of $ 1,500 a year, a number that has barely changed in 50 years. And $ 1,500 does not go very far if you consider the cost of important dental work.
The cost of a single crown can be up to 2,000 dollars and the cost of an implant can cost 5,000 per tooth.
It is not uncommon for older adults to need a set of four implants and several crowns, so you can see that costs can quickly become prohibitive.
One of the reasons why dental care is so expensive in the United States is insurance. “The most complicated number one aspect of running a dental office, without exception, is to deal with dental insurance.
Another cost for US dentists is malpractice insurance, which is not required in Mexico. The insurance process is so frustrating that some dentists in the United States do not accept it.
Unfortunately, dentists who do not accept insurance generally require higher rates.
Which brings us back to the small town of Los Algodones, or when the locals and the patients who visit us have come to call it “Ciudad de Molar”.
6,000 patients per day
Just seven miles from the border with Yuma, Arizona, visitors seeking dental care are bombarded with a wide range of dental advertisements, billboards and street vendors offering offers.
According to Mayor Christian Camacho, up to 6,000 dental refugees are heading to Los Algodones every day in the mild season between Thanksgiving and March.
It would be irresponsible not to also comment on the experiences of very different border crossings between the two groups.
The Central American refugees travel hundreds of kilometers of unforgiving desert, vulnerable to the exploitation and violence of human traffickers and at risk of family separation, cruel treatment and death in the custody of agents of the United States border.
On the contrary, US citizens seeking medical attention can park in Yuma for $ 5, cross the border, get the help they need and return for dinner.
Source: Truthout, Forbes
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