Persistent disparities in the use of health care along the US-Mexico border: An ecological perspective

Elena Bastida, H. Shelton Brown, José A. Pagán

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives. We examined disparities in health care use among US-Mexico border residents, with a focus on the unique binational environment of the region, to determine factors that may influence health care use in Mexico. Methods. Data were from 2 waves of a population-based study of 1048 Latino residents of selected Texas border counties. Logistic regression models examined predictors of health insurance coverage. Results from these models were used to examine regional patterns of health care use. Results. Of the respondents younger than 65 years, 60% reported no health insurance coverage. The uninsured were 7 and 3 times more likely in waves 3 and 4, respectively, to use medical care in Mexico than were the insured. Preference for medical care in Mexico was an important predictor. Conclusions. For those who were chronically ill, old, poor, or burdened by the lengthy processing of their documents by immigration authorities, the United States provided the only source of health care. For some, Mexico may lessen the burden at the individual level, but it does not lessen the aggregate burden of providing highly priced care to the region's neediest. Health disparities will continue unless policies are enacted to expand health care accessibility in the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1987-1995
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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