Americans' ‘right to Shop' Takes Them Into Mexico to Buy Insulin at 1/3 the Cost

Note: This story is part of a partnership that includes Side Effects Public Media, NPR and Kaiser Health News. It is being republished with permission.When Michelle Fenner signed up to run this year's Los Angeles Marathon, it got her thinking: Tijuana, Mexico, is only a 2½-hour drive from L.A. Why not take a trip across the border and buy some insulin for her son?"It's so easy to just go across the border," mused Fenner, who splits her time between Dallas and Arvada, Colo.This idea had been in the back of Fenner's mind for a while. Her son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes nine years ago, meaning he needs daily injections of insulin to live. The list price of the modern generation of insulin has skyrocketed since his diagnosis. On one trip to the pharmacy last year, Fenner was told that a three-month supply of insulin would cost her $3,700.That same supply would cost only about $600 in Mexico.So, when she booked her trip to Los Angeles, Fenner said, "I decided we need to update our passports and go and get more insulin."Fenner is not the only one thinking like this. The U.S. government estimates that close to 1 million people in California alone cross to Mexico annually for health care, including to buy prescription drugs. And between 150,000 and 320,000 Americans list health care as a reason for traveling abroad each year. Cost savings is the most commonly cited reason.  Continue reading...

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