The Dallas Morning News

It’s been nearly 20 years since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which opened the border to increased trade in merchandise and services, among them medical care. But a plethora of restrictions remains, preventing Americans from cashing in on quality care that could be as much as 40 percent cheaper, Fry and others say. A recent report by the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean shows that despite its proximity to the U.S., Mexico is woefully behind other countries in attracting American patients. Mexico needs to do more both to improve security and to certify hospitals to treat international patients, experts say. Only 19 Mexican hospitals are certified by the Joint Commission, a world body that accredits hospitals, compared with 35 in Brazil.

“Mexico needs to get more hospitals certified by the Joint Commission, address violence and the perception of it, and needs to significantly increase advertising in the United States,”

said Christopher E. Wilson, an expert on economic issues at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute.

“In the U.S., states need to see if changes are needed in insurance regulation to allow policies to cover care in Mexico,” Wilson said. “In California, for instance, some insurance companies are selling policies to cover care in Mexico. Finally, getting Medicare to cover treatment out of the U.S. is the holy grail for medical tourism advocates.”