New Migrant Worker Health Plan Offers Binational Care

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Migrant workers who split time between Mexico and Bakersfield could now have access to medical insurance on both sides of the border, thanks to a new plan targeting Kern County's large mobile labor force.

The plan, which Health Net started marketing in Kern County earlier this year, would provide medical care locally as well as in several Mexican border cities.

The Los Angeles-based health insurer has offered cross border plans for years in Southern California but the Kern expansion marks its most northern reach -- to a region that's a five-hour drive from Mexico.

"With rising healthcare costs in the U.S., employers are faced with difficult choices," said Christina Suggett, chief operating officer for SIMNSA Health Plan, the Mexican network of doctors with which Health Net contracts. "Our workforce is very interested in accessing care across the border."

These binational plans strive to offer lower healthcare costs for workers and employers as well as culturally sensitive care for an increasingly globalized workforce. Yet some consumer advocates question whether the options ensure continuity of care or provide enough quality safeguards for treatment received south of the border.

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