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One Stop SHOPPING: The future of medical tourism By: Brandy Flores

Medical costs are extremely high in the United States, whether it be for insurance, medications or medical procedures. Most Americans don’t even question how much it costs to get a procedure done or purchase medication, because americans think there are no other safe options for treatment.

The medical field is a lucrative business and the industry alone can be considered the 5th largest economy in the world, and even according to medical professionals in the field, such as Dr. Eric Varner, it can be seen as a “doctor’s cartel”.

“In the United States because of the doctors cartel called the american medical association doctors are very scarce. So if you want to go to a doctor you will be lucky to get an appointment and whatever doctor you can visit in the united states. If you go to a doctors office or a hospital you are not the customer, whos the customer? Your insurance plan. Now what does your insurance plan care about? They care about certain boxes getting checked in the protocol for billing they care about certain elements of progress written by your doctor but what they don’t care about is whether you are happy what they don't care about is whether you do well.”

As a result of high prices with no government regulation, Americans are looking into other options, such as visiting our southern neighbors as MEDICAL tourists. Dr. Varner says that medical tourism will soon be normalized.

“Medical tourism is the wave of the future and I am sure that in the future it is going to be as american as apple pie for people to go to the airport instead of the hopstical to get help when they are sick. I myself have bariatric surgery six years ago and it was one of the best things I could have done for myself the quality of care that you receive in Mexico or at least in TJ where I am most familiar with is in many cases superior to the quality of care that you receive in the United States and the price is very affordable and what it does is it opens up a lot of options for people who couldn't otherwise get that care to get really great care. In mexico you usually have a direct financial relationship with your doctor and what that means is that your doctor cares very much about whether you're happy and doing well and what you have is the incentive to please the customer.”

Eva Perez, an administrative assistant at an insurance company in Brawley, California can testify to the great quality of care she receives when she goes to Mexico for her medical needs.

“The thing is, I really like the way you interact with doctors over there and when I was on insurance here I was on an HMO so it was like go to your primary doctor and get referred out, it's basically the same in Mexico like I tell you the process seems much faster and it's not as cold and robotic you know what i am saying. You have someone there and someone to talk to and everything is so much faster and you just feel so much better cus you get things done and you aren't waiting and it gets done quick."

- Eva Perez

Tijuana, Baja California in Mexico has been adjusting well to the increase in medical tourism from the United States. Sharing a popular border with San Diego, California pharmacies are at nearly every street corner. Tijuana is trying its best to take advantage of all the Americans crossing the border to get the same services at a lower price.

New City Medical Plaza located in Tijuana, Baja California Mexico.

Enter, the New City Medical Plaza, currently under construction in Tijuana, this center will become the one-stop shop for all medical needs. This plaza is a three part facility, made up of the medical center, the hotel and a condominium all connected together and protected within a security gate. This plaza is not limited to having onsite facilities such as a spa, barber shop, bowling alley, movie theater, daycare center, and restaurant -- and that is what is just built already.

What is yet to come, is the medical center along with a directly connecting hotel which will have an commercial area underneath of shops and more restaurants. The medical center itself will have doctor’s offices ranging from different types of practices with a laboratory, so that nothing needs to be sent out of the medical center to finds results, which is faster for patients.

Representative for the New City Medical Plaza, Idiana Diaz says that the goal of the plaza is to attract the American dollar.

"We have, plastic surgeons, cardiologists, phycologists, dentists, fertility clinics, gynecologists we have an endless list of specialties we also have a surgical area for emergency surgeries. We already have more than 70% of the tower sold. The idea is to offer integral services for both general health and specialties. We plan on tending to patients from our region but our main goal is attract the U.S. Market. We have programmed a transportation services to and from the U. S., as there is people who do not want to cross the border in their vehicle due to the long lines to cross back into the U. S. Our transport service will provide transportation to and from the border to our medical facility."

Being the only of its kind near the border, the new city medical plaza is a revolutionary step towards taking advantage of the medical tourism Tijuana is already receiving from the United States.

The United States medical industry has been making top dollar on its consumers, who usually have no other choice but to spend the cash, but with the increase in medical tourism slowly rising each year, what will it take for the “doctor’s cartel” to end its reign and focus on their original purpose, helping the people who need it? Dr. Varner explains that he would rather get back to the business of helping people than go through insurance companies.

“To be honest i feel bad about my medical practice here in the united states it's not that i feel I do a bad job for my patients, no i feel like i do a very good job for my patients but i am working in such a dysfunctional system that is exploiting people and giving my consent to it, even though I make a lot of money i would rather have a direct financial relationship with my patients.”

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