“Molar City” sees 6,000 American visitors per day in search of affordable dentistry
While the conversation over national health care policy continues to rage on with no end in sight, many Americans are finding relief from the high cost of dental care and services by heading to “Molar City,” the Mexican desert town of Los Algodones, which is enjoying an influx of Americans in search of dentistry. A recent BuzzFeed feature shows the surprising migration for the marginalized masses in the United States, many of whom would otherwise be considered middle class.
According to Mayor Christian Camacho, 6,000 “dental refugees” find their way to Los Algodones every day in the more temperate months. “We’re helping the United States take care of the people they are not able to,” he says.
Many may be surprised by hoards of Americans turning to Mexico for health care of any sort, but with government-provided dental care only aimed toward the impoverished, the dwindling middle class is finding it cheaper to take family trips to Mexico for health care than paying the “rack rate” for such care domestically.
Though the influx of demand is recent, Molar City has been marketing itself to U.S. citizens for decades. Los Algodones has even gone so far as to seize the domain name MolarCity.com as a portal for customers to reach the 350 dental clinics that reside just 10 miles west of Yuma, Arizona.
The cost of service is roughly a third of what it is in the United States, but with that discount comes the predictable caveats of bargain-shopping medical services in a country with fewer regulations. Shoddy products and inexperienced practices regularly do more harm than good. But many find the risks to be acceptable when weighed against the savings.
What once would have been considered a lower-tier, back-alley solution is now thriving as legitimate competition to established U.S. practices:
Eye care, which, like dentistry, historically falls outside of umbrella health care coverage, is also a thriving industry in Los Algodones. 150 optical clinics operate in the area.
It’s clear that business continues to improve in this border town. As the health care situation continues to marginalize more and more Americans, what was once considered a last resort is now, shockingly, emerging as a viable alternative.