UNTHSC professor co-authors study on health care utilization in the U.S./Mexico border

Posted Date: June 22, 2011

José A. Pagán, PhD, chair of the Department of Health Management and Policy at the UNT Health Science Center’s (UNTHSC) School of Public Health, Fort Worth, Texas, is co-author of an article, “Cross-Border Utilization of Health Care: Evidence from a Population-Based Study in South Texas,” published in the June 2011 issue of Health Services Research (HSR).

Lead author is Dejun Su, PhD, Department of Sociology, University of Texas-Pan American, and other co-authors are Chad Richardson, PhD, Department of Sociology, University of Texas-Pan American; and Ming Wen, PhD, Department of Sociology, The University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

The objective of the study was to assess the prevalence and contributing factors of cross-border health care utilization in Mexico by Texas border residents.

According to the report, “a significant barrier to health care access lies in the economic deprivation to which the border area has long been exposed, as indicated by exceedingly high rates of poverty and uninsurance.”  The study notes that about 47 percent of the residents in the 32 border counties in Texas lived below 150 percent of the federal poverty line in 2000, compared with the U.S. national average of 21 percent.

The study’s findings show that 49 percent of the household respondents surveyed reported having purchased medications in Mexico, 41 percent visited Mexico for dental visits, 37.3 reported doctor visits, and 6.7 reported having received inpatient care.

“The most significant predictors of health care utilization in Mexico were lack of U.S. health insurance coverage, dissatisfaction with the quality of U.S. health care and poor self-rated health status,” the research reported.

The study’s conclusions suggest a need for a bi-national approach to improve the affordability, accessibility and quality of health care in the U.S.-Mexico border region.