About 750,000 Americans a year visit Baja California for medical care, according to Karim Chalita Rodríguez, president of a medical trade group that goes by the name of Clúster Médico Dental y Hospitalario de Baja California. Chalita Rodríguez is also president of the Tijuana Chamber of Commerce.
While medical tourism has grown by about 20 percent in the last year, he said in an interview published August 22 in El Sol de Tijuana, data available to the medical industry in Baja do not specify which areas of practice are responsible for the increase.
“Many times the patient who comes for an office visit is not counted and only surgeries like plastic surgery or bariatric surgery are counted,”
he said. “We have failed to quantify well the patient who comes just for an office visit, even though they represent a major economic flow into our state. And he who comes for an office visit, when done, looks for other attractions in the city.”
Those coming to Baja just for an office visit account for an influx of about $80 million annually into the Baja economy, and about 85 percent of that is spent in Tijuana, he said.
Should the US Congress approve immigration reform, medical tourism to Baja would spike even higher, said Chalita Rodríguez, because there are many Mexicans living in the US who would prefer to obtain medical care in Mexico for cultural reasons but fear problems returning to the US should they cross the international border.