Managing Medical Tourism Mobility in Mexico’s Northern Border Communities

Authors: Tomás Cuevas-Contreras*, Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, Dallen J Timothy, Arizona State University, Isabel Zizaldra-Hernández, Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Tourism Geography, Geography and Urban Health
Keywords: Medical tourism, cross-border mobility, Mexico-US border
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Maryland B, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper discusses the relationship between globalization, health, medical mobility and tourism along the Mexico-US border. Medical tourism is growing rapidly and is figuring more prominently in mobility policy discussions. In recent years, we have seen quantitative growth in patient mobility as individuals travel from developed to less-developed countries to access healthcare. These trans-border travelers have the financial capacity to cover all travel and treatment expenses. Among other conditions, the constant variables are insufficient specialized physicians in the travelers’ home areas, inadequate healthcare systems, lack of advanced technology at home, and inadequate insurance coverage in both public and private sectors. All of these issues encourage international medical mobility. Mexico’s northern border region has in recent decades become a major medical tourism destination owing largely to its proximity to the United States. All of these conditions continue to provide an opportunity for the northern border region of Mexico to develop a robust health/medical tourism sector. This study examines the place-based medical services and recreational opportunities that encourage medical border crossers to select a particular destination. The growing potential of this lucrative form of tourism has captured the attention of policy-makers in Mexico. The findings of our study suggest a need for policy makers to turn their attention to the complexities of medical tourists’ experiences beyond only the economic impact and tourists’ expenditures, with particular attention to missed opportunities in promoting the distinctive nuances of healthcare and local culture in Mexican border communities.

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