La Opinión, News Report, Gardenia Mendoza Aguilar, Translated by Elena Kadvany
“We are fighting against everything,” said Health Secretary José Ángel Córdova, announcing the kickoff of the pilot program at Mexican consulates in Denver, Sacramento, Chicago, Washington, and San Diego. Mexico plans to extend the program to the rest of the country over the next year and, beginning on July 18, through the website www.seguro-popular.salud.gob.mx.
“Living in the United States increases the health risks for our citizens,” the government official told delegates from the Institute for Mexicans Abroad.
According to figures provided by the Ministry of Health, while the incidence of AIDS cases in Mexico is 0.3 percent, among Mexicans living in the United States the percentage doubles to 0.6 percent.
In the case of diabetes, the numbers are even more alarming: 7 percent in Mexico compared to 20 percent in the United States.
Those interested in registering for the Mexican government’s Seguro Popular health insurance plan should submit an application at the health desks located at consulates or online, paying a fee—on average $300, but it varies according to socioeconomic status—and the policy will be delivered to the family in their home state.
In the cases of primary care or accidents, the Mexican health system has the support of American authorities so that workers are treated in the United States, regardless of their immigration status; for chronic diseases, they should return to Mexico.
Other options are available through community organizations such as Mujeres Unidas en Acción, in Chicago, which provides advice to immigrant patients who cannot travel to Mexico so they can be treated in the United States.
“There’s a list of clinics in Illinois that support us, but that’s true in every state. You just have to go to the consulate and ask,” said Socorro Pesquiera, from Mujeres Unidas en Acción. “This is to prepare us for (the implementation of) health reform because there will be more people who cannot access health insurance, or buy it.”
There are about 6.6 million Mexicans and 2 million Central Americans without papers that do not have access to healthcare in the United States, despite running higher health risks from saturated fats, alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
“This work is more important than ever,” said Secretary of Foreign Affairs Patricia Espinosa. “We are faced with initiatives that try to criminalize migrant workers, that don’t recognize their contributions to American society and attempt to distort the migratory phenomenon by linking it to transnational organized crime.”