Healthcare in Mexico | Myths and Facts

March 21, 2010 by
Categories: Healthcare, Travel Health Insurance, Retirement

Travel Medical InsuranceBy: Charles Sipe - Mexico Real Estate Investment

For foreigners who are considering a move to Mexico, one important concern is the quality of healthcare. Often images of Third World conditions or swine flu emerge when most people think of "healthcare" and "Mexico." However, the reality is that for foreigners living in Mexico, the quality of healthcare is far from second-rate.

Mexico has both private and public systems of healthcare that are accessible to foreigners.

The Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) provides an HMO-style public health care program. The program is open only to Mexican taxpayers who pay Social Security through their employer and qualified resident retirees (including foreigners).

For a low annual flat fee, participants have access to a health care plan with no limits, no deductibles, no charge for virtually all medicine, tests, X-rays, eyeglasses and dental coverage. Pre-existing conditions are not covered for the first two years but virtually all (with the exception of a very few) medical care costs are covered by the annual fee.

IMSS hospitals do not offer the same frills that US hospitals do, such as in-room phones and televisions, and some require that family members assist patients with non-medical tasks. In most cases, doctors and nurses only speak in Spanish but the quality of health care is often good and with the government increasing its spending on healthcare, it is expected that the quality and access to care will improve. Many US retirees living in Mexico purchase IMSS coverage as a cheap form of insurance against medical emergencies, while traveling back to the US for less urgent care.

Private health systems or insurers provide wealthy and middle class Mexicans and foreigners working or residing in Mexico with access to high quality, state of the art medical services. Typically services are provided on a cash basis or through payment plans. Still costs for these high end services are often much lower than if the same procedure were done in the US. Often doctors and staff at these facilities have an excellent medical education and have trained abroad in Europe or North America. This is a growing sector of Mexico's economy and many Mexicans who are insured through the IMSS system pay out of pocket to access these services. Top facilities are located in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey.

Also See:

How Mexico's Health System Works CBC News