Dr. Cecilia Espinoza meets with her patient Irma Montalvo. Montalvo, a U.S. citizen, prefers to travel to Mexico for health care, even though she signed up for a health plan through Covered California (Heidi de Marco/KHN).
By Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News
TIJUANA, Mexico – Irma Montalvo signed up for a health plan through Covered California, the state’s insurance marketplace, last month, getting coverage for the first time in eight years.
“To be honest, I like to come here better even if I have insurance.”
But when she needed treatment for a painful skin rash, Montalvo didn’t go to a doctor near her home in Chula Vista. Instead she drove to Mexico, about 16 miles south. Her doctor, Cecilia Espinoza, diagnosed her with shingles and prescribed medication to relieve pain and head off complications.
Montalvo, 64, said she comes to Tijuana in part because it costs just $15 to see the doctor. She can’t use her insurance for care outside California but it’s still cheaper because she doesn’t have to worry about a deductible. More important, she said, is that she feels comfortable with Espinoza.
“She listens to me,” said Montalvo, a U.S. citizen who was born in Mexico, said in Spanish. “I come here feeling really bad, and three days later I am better.” Continue reading