Health care and illegal immigrants in America: why Mexico is the key
Urging Mexico to strive for a better health care system could relieve the burden on US taxpayers.
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The multiple agencies and state-federal overlap of functions accentuate delays, errors, overhead expenses, and corruption. No wonder Mexico falls at the bottom of the 30 OECD states in terms of out-of-pocket outlays on physician and hospital visits.Skip to next paragraph
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According to the Associated press, "Mexicans will do almost anything to avoid a public hospital emergency room, where ailing patients may languish for hours slumped on cracked linoleum floors that smell of sweat, sickness, and pine-scented disinfectant. Many don't see doctors at all, heading instead to the clerk at the corner pharmacy for advice on coping with a cold or a flu."
Mexico's National Human Rights Commission has criticized the lack of general practice physicians, specialists, and nurses, as well as "the insufficiency of beds, medicine, instruments, and medical equipment in general." To make matters worse, administrative costs devour 10.8 percent of the nation's meager health budget – more than twice the level of Medicare in the US.
Corrupt union practices compound the problem.
The Health Workers' Union has gained one benefit after another since its founding in 1944. Not only do union members boast tenured positions, relative high salaries, free medical care for themselves and their families, generous Christmas bonuses, and additional compensation for arriving at work on time, but their retirement plan is one of the most attractive in the country. The lion's share of the nation's 374,000 union members can retire with pensions in their mid-50s compared with the minimum retirement age of 65 for most other Mexicans.
So what can be done? Instead of turning a blind eye to the Mexican government's unwillingness to improve the medical care of its people, the Hispanic Congressional Caucus and other special pleaders for including illegal aliens in healthcare legislation should insist that our southern neighbor launch a root-and-branch reform of how it addresses its own citizens' medical needs.
And if the US encouraged Mexico to strive for a better system, the health bill now before the Senate would be relieved of one less roadblock.
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