Author: Medical Tourism Magazine
Americans without dental insurance thinking about heading south for a trusted dentist have something to smile about.
Administrators, doctors and clinical staff from the Sani Dental Group in Los Algodones, located just across the border in Mexico, became the first group to earn Medical Tourism Association® International Patient Services Certification, which affords healthcare and hospitality professionals the practical training and knowledge to effectively manage international patient-care processes.
Patients who travel to the Sani Dental Group, in the Mexican state of Baja, California, can save up to 70 percent off similar procedures offered in the United States – from root canals to implants, among others.
“Months ago, we started searching for a certification for our clinics,” said Alejandro Gutierrez, marketing manager for the Sani Dental Group, which provides options for both the uninsured and the insured who can’t find the treatments they can afford. “We understand the value that certification brings to our organization in terms of reputation and safety for our potential patients.”
Gutierrez said after evaluating a number of options, Sani Dental chose the Medical Tourism Association® because of the holistic approach to training and the protocols involved in improving patient experiences.
“We are very excited about this certification,” he said. “We believe this certification will provide a competitive advantage and strengthen relationships with professional medical tourism facilitators.”
Renée-Marie Stephano, president of the Medical Tourism Association®, said Sani Dental is a sound ambassador for American patients because doctors and staff speak English, the facility is in close proximity to the border and transactions can be made using U.S. currency.
“Many Americans can leave for a dental procedure in the morning and be home for dinner by nightfall in the United States,” she said. “Patients who decided to travel for dental care will be pleasantly surprised to see that dental practices they encounter in Mexico are quite similar to those in their neighborhoods back home in the United States.”
South of the Border Care
The rising cost of dental care these days can put a frown in any smile; especially those of the 130 million Americans without dental insurance.
Tourism officials estimate about 450,000 people visit the Mexican state of Baja California each year for medical tourism procedures – from dental work to extensive surgeries. What’s more, Mexican tourism officials say the patients are worth some $89 million in U.S. dollars per year to the state.
Almost 99 percent of the patients that visit the Sani Dental Group in Los Algodones, a small town on the extreme northeastern tip of the municipality of Mexicali — or about 20 miles west of Yuma, Ariz. – are residents of the United States or Canada.
The facility is like any other found at its neighbor to the North. Sani Dental, which has multiple locations throughout Mexico is accredited by the American Dental Association, houses on-site laboratories and cad-cam and laser technology, and supports 17 specialized doctors who have trained at some of the most prestigious universities in the United States including the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, in Boston, and the International Center of Laser Education, in Indianapolis.
Sani Dental receives about 350 patients each month. The new Medical Tourism Association® certification could go a long way toward increasing the number of visitors to Los Algodones who are adjusting to healthcare reform.
Easier to Swallow Costs
Under the Affordable Care Act, American adults must buy health insurance or pay a fine beginning in 2014. But, the law does not require those same adults to purchase other types of policies like dental or vision, although some healthcare plans include the additional coverage.
As a whole, Americans aren’t spending any more on dental care than they were five years ago, but baby boomers may alter that attitude. That’s right, once-healthy teeth also deteriorate with age. Throw in the fact that by the end of the year, more than 3.5 million Americans will be age 65 or older and, when considering that those ranks are expected to increase at least for the next 20 years, it’s easy to understand why more patients will be willing to give thought to nearby international destinations like Mexico for healthcare.
While there may be an exotic ring to the name, Mexicali is all business. Patients are more likely to run into a medical professional in Los Algodones than a western cowboy. The Medical Tourism Association® training, which includes site visits, evaluations and recommendations, also helps to fill a growing need for qualified and experienced skills at hospitals now focusing on medical tourism in Mexico and across the globe.