Los Algodones, Mexico, has become "the latest boomtown for medical tourism," with about 350 dentists providing care for prices that are up to 70% less than what U.S. residents typically pay, the Chicago Tribune reports.
In late 1990s, U.S. health care costs increased and Arizona began attracting more retirees. As a result, more people in the area began seeking affordable dental care. According to the Tribune, dental offices began to replace bars in Los Algodones, which is on the U.S. border. Experts say one reason costs in Mexico are lower is because the cost of U.S. malpractice insurance is passed on to the consumer.
Some critics of the Mexican dental practices caution patients about the quality of care being offered. U.S. medical authorities equate Los Algodones to a "medical Wild West, an unregulated environment where substandard providers can hang their shingle without the same oversight that exists" in the U.S., according to the Tribune. Others cite concerns over safety and a lack of recourse for patients to make official complaints or receive compensation for inadequate care. However, local dentist Carlos Rubio -- who was trained in the U.S and practices in Los Algodones -- said, "Wherever you go -- London, Canada, Chicago -- you're going to find the best, the average and the bad," adding, "We are no exception" (Avila, Chicago Tribune, 3/24).