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June 15, 2017 5:56 PM   Subscribe

A Mexican Town Is Giving Americans Something Donald Trump Can’t: Affordable Dental Care Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric doesn’t worry the 600 dentists in Los Algodones or the US “dental refugees” they treat, many of whom voted for Trump. “We’re helping the United States take care of the people they are not able to.”, John Stanton/BuzzFeed News (previously: 1, 2)
posted by Room 641-A (26 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
 
I saw this video earlier, but I didn't see the article. Thank you.

Revolting to see those white Americans stand on the Mexican sidewalk and say they voted for Trump. I don't know how the conversation really went, editing being what it is, but it seems like at least one of them had the grace or shame for silence when gently questioned about that. Still, they remind me of those evangelical women who will protest abortion clinics, then quietly hustle their daughters in on another day.

I've been interested in Mexican dental care myself, but with travel from the East Coast and lodging it looks as if the price would work out the same as paying a nearby American dentist. Still, those calculations were a few years ago.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:06 PM on June 15 [17 favorites]


The invisible hand of dental care.
posted by GuyZero at 6:14 PM on June 15


I'm one of those RVers who always went to this town for dental care. I got recommendations for specific dentists from RV organizations. Also, having lived in Tucson we used to go to Nogales for dental care, but as the article says, it got dicey. Insurance is a ripoff, especially dental insurance. Good article.
posted by MovableBookLady at 6:18 PM on June 15 [9 favorites]


A first saw this story here at Gone With The Wynns.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 6:32 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


Friend of mine had over $25,000 of dental work done in Costa Rica for (NOT 25k, and a bonus tropical vacation to recuperate as well). At her next checkup the dentist here said they weren't even capable of doing that level of work here, let alone for that price.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:53 PM on June 15 [16 favorites]


Trump wants to build a wall, but in Molar City they just want to build...


...a bridge.
posted by little mouth at 6:53 PM on June 15 [82 favorites]


I've been missing a front tooth for over a year now. I hope in a few months I'll be out of this financial hole enough to deal with it, but I'm pretty sure I'll have to go to TJ to do it. Of course, that's cosmetic, but I have other serious dental issues to deal with. There's no question that bad teeth can lead to other, serious health issues, so I just don't understand why it's so fucking difficult to get basic dental care in this country. I mean, I do, but it's inexcusable.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:09 PM on June 15 [18 favorites]


This is ... relevant to my interests. Thanks.
posted by mykescipark at 7:11 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


I've researched Mexican dental clinics on behalf of a buddy. It's appealing given the alternative of no dental care whatsoever for some folks. Thanks for the link, OP!
posted by Bella Donna at 7:30 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of when I came across a thread in some ancient forum from the early 00's. It was a forum for conservatives and libertarians, and they were sharing ways of obtaining cheap meds from Canada, because they couldn't afford it in the US. It was around the same time that there were often headlines about Republicans considering stripping away Medicare/Medicaid.
posted by picklenickle at 7:52 PM on June 15 [9 favorites]


Trump wants to build a wall, but in Molar City they just want to build...


...a bridge.
posted by little mouth


ಠ_ಠ
posted by Room 641-A at 7:59 PM on June 15 [27 favorites]


I did this! I went here! I was very nervous about doing it after hearing so many demeaning jokes about how terrible health care in other countries is, especially, often said with a sneer, Mexico. Which was so false! I ended up getting around $30,000 worth of dental work for $7,200, including gas money and hotel ($35 a night, very clean, homey room) and I got to bring my therapy dog. I made three trips there total, and it was completely and utterly worth it. It improved my quality of life so much. They also replaced two crowns that had gone bad in less than two years from improper sealing (from a 'reputable' USA dentist). When I came home, my new local dentist could not even tell they were crowns, the work is so natural and professional. I will do it again when I need major dental work, but I've been worried about strain from our terrible presidential relations now.

I will say it was a surreal experience, walking around a town where everyone was clutching ice to their faces or sipping frozen drinks, sharing knowing glances. There was a certain jovial comraderie of succeeding against the odds, perhaps because everyone had a story about how dental care in their respective states had failed them. Most people were older, those who had reached a tipping point after decades of no hope who were finally getting the help they needed.
posted by equestrian at 8:33 PM on June 15 [55 favorites]


The blind hypocrisy of the Trump supporters is truly mind numbing.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:02 PM on June 15 [25 favorites]


In the three decades since dental insurance has become common, it’s never been a serious part of any of the health care overhaul efforts Democrats or Republicans have undertaken.
I will say that I had decent dental while on Medicaid, but on the whole, dental health care parity has not been a part of anybody's reform plans that I've seen. We can't blame this one on the administration. It's ironic to see Trump voters asking Mexicans for anything, certainly, but a Clinton presidency was probably not going to make major strides in getting dental benefits for people on Medicare. I find that interesting--how do we seem to have such a huge national blind spot for this? Even employer plans--I have "good insurance" and an annual maximum of all of $1500. In all the health care reform talk around the time of the ACA, I don't remember hearing anybody talk about teeth. Policy-wise, we seem to still exist like a hundred years ago when people feel like it's a generous plan that helps you pay for dentures after all your teeth fall out.
posted by Sequence at 10:43 PM on June 15 [9 favorites]


I have "good insurance" and an annual maximum of all of $1500.

This. I have "good" insurance also, and the dental coverage will basically pay for a couple of checkups and a filling or two. Anything major and you would be on your own.

It's a good article and an important topic, though honestly I think the Trump aspect is clickbait rather than the important part. As the article and the comments here note, failing to provide dental coverage is a bipartisan issue in the US, and people have been crossing the border for dental work for a long time. Medical tourism is becoming a big deal and a lot of countries are starting to compete for those dollars; I would only expect to see it continue to grow.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:32 AM on June 16 [4 favorites]


I was ruminating on the idea of "colonoscopy vacations" where you could spend the weekend relaxing by the pool while getting your scheduled tune-up. I just have to find cocktail recipes that work well with polyethylene glycol.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:14 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


"... It was a forum for conservatives and libertarians, and they were sharing ways of obtaining cheap meds from Canada, because they couldn't afford it in the US. It was around the same time that there were often headlines about Republicans considering stripping away Medicare/Medicaid."
With the same critics decrying socialized medicine in Canada too, right?
posted by MILNEWSca at 7:43 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


In what bizzaro world is Donald Trump responsible for the current cost of dental care in the USA?

Oh, Buzzfeed. Never mind.

In the three decades since dental insurance has become common, it’s never been a serious part of any of the health care overhaul efforts Democrats or Republicans have undertaken.
posted by lstanley at 10:51 AM on June 16


lstanley, I don't think the irony is about Trump's affect on dental care, but about his straining our relationship with Mexico and Mexican citizens.
posted by domo at 11:55 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the current Trump rhetoric is that Mexico is dangerous and full of criminals. The truth is that the US-Mexico border should be a huge boon not just for appliance manufacturers but for Americans of all economic classes who can get services performed for dimes on the dollar.

Canadians don't look south across the border and see a violent nation of mass shootings (well, ok, we do) but instead a world of shopping malls and Cinnabons and the opportunity to buy things that are too expensive to bring into a market one-tenth of the size.
posted by GuyZero at 12:37 PM on June 16 [6 favorites]


We would have trouble explaining to an alien anthropologist why we have an entirely different health care system and set of standards for about half of our heads. (And the other half, too, considering our issues with providing mental health care.) That isn't just an American problem. It's a historical holdover, compounded by the real complexity of oral health care.

I haven't got a solution for that. It's true that it's not Trump's fault. I just really dislike seeing people openly treat others as good enough to provide intimate and demanding services, but not good enough to be equals who are entitled to human decency.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:09 PM on June 16 [7 favorites]


We would have trouble explaining to an alien anthropologist why we have an entirely different health care system and set of standards for about half of our heads. (And the other half, too, considering our issues with providing mental health care.)

I think we need to talk in quarters, not halves, since eye care is usually separate and usually doesn't cover frames* and hearing aids, which aren't covered under any plans I'm aware of. This worries me as an American, and also as someone who needs glasses and hearing aids. I've said this before, but with people forced to work into nearly into their 70s and beyond, I don't know how we expect people to care for themselves when they can't see or hear, let alone work, FFS.

Yes, i know, Zenni, etc, but frame fit aside, it's not a great way to buy complicated or bifocal lenses.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:22 PM on June 16 [7 favorites]


Dental care isn't just separated health care in the US. The separation is also the case in Bosnia and in Croatia. However dentistry is cheap, there are dental clinics all over in Sarajevo. Find a medical interpreter and any clinic will take your money and fix up your choppers.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:07 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


The mind numbing hypocrisy that I was referring to in the Trump supporters didn't have to do with dental care per se. Its the way Trump supporters feel free to use our next door neighbor whenever its convient for them, and then vote someone into office who is openly hateful and hostile to the very country who graciously hosts you, and provides you the affordable medical care (not even asking you to do business in their own language) that you cant get in the US.

Its unspeakably vile in my opinion.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 3:42 PM on June 16 [10 favorites]


These are people who, back home here, would go to the three-star rated Dr. Rogers before the five-star rated Dr. Rodriguez. Their president even told them that a judge with a Spanish-sounding last name can't be impartial. (So basically, unqualified to be an actual judge.)
posted by Room 641-A at 9:13 PM on June 16 [1 favorite]


I went to Algodones this winter with my uncle for his dental work. It really felt like a caricature of a place and we didn't stay longer than necessary (I can't say the Yuma side struck me much better though). He got good quality dental work with no wait or appointment for a fraction of the price. While I was waiting for him I managed to have some nice real conversations with people in Spanglish (many of whom had lived in the US, like the article said), but on the whole, I witnessed the Americans having no further interaction or experience with the Mexicans other than to say "how much." Aside from dentists, pharmacists, and optometrists, there are liquor stores, cigar outlets, and cheap metal/leather vendors. I didn't venture out of the town, but it certainly was a surreal experience. Crossing the border back to the US took more than two hours in line, in the sun, with the surly border guards. I didn't conduct a survey, but my observation agrees with the generalization: red-state retirees who voted Trump. Well, the fish tacos were good.
posted by perrouno at 4:39 AM on June 17 [2 favorites]


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