Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, August 22, 2005


So you're worried about computer programmers losing their jobs to India, and the textile jobs fleeing to China? At least our health care industry can't escape to cheaper climes.

Think again. From Richard Marosi in the Los Angeles Times:

About 160,000 California workers — farm laborers as well as working-class Latinos employed at hotels, casinos, restaurants and local governments in San Diego and Imperial counties — are getting their annual checkups and having surgeries through health networks south of the border, insurers say.

The arrangement is cheaper for both employers and employees. In Mexico, healthcare costs are about 40% to 50% lower than in California, freeing some employers to offer services that they couldn't otherwise afford.


Employees enjoy lower premiums and co-payments, typically $5, and the comfort and convenience of describing their aches and pains in Spanish to doctors who, they say, tend to take more time with them.

"The rate is good, the service is good," said David Ouzan, a city councilman in Calexico, where about a third of the city's workers use dental and medical clinics in Mexicali, just across the border. "I myself have used dentists in Mexico."

Of course, for those of us who don't live near the Mexican border the trip isn't usually worth it. But I know someone who went to South Africa for cancer surgery, and we all know about drug shopping in Mexico and Canada. The radiologist who reads your CT scan is very likely in India -- yup, they do it over the Internet.

The gravy train won't run forever, folks. The future of the U.S. economy will not consist of all of us lying on gurneys, giving each other IVs, drugs, surgery and diagnostic procedures, and making each other's boat payments.

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