Mexico has a well managed and efficient Health Care system. Whether you use a private or public option, Health Insurance in Mexico is readily available and affordable. Private health insurance coverage is more expensive, however it does offer access to private hospitals and specialised doctors.
The public sector health insurance, or Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social (IMSS) is funded through the Mexican government and employer and employee payroll taxes. This coverage is available to all Mexican citizens and, for a fee, expats who hold temporary and permanent residency. This option for health insurance in Mexico is more affordable than the private sector.
Do I need Extra Health Coverage?
All visitors to Mexico, whether a short-term tourist or a long-term expat, are encouraged to possess some sort of Health Insurance coverage. Many sun-seekers have health insurance programs from their home countries, however, there may be restrictions for international travel.
In this era of Covid-19, many tour operators insist that travellers purchase additional health insurance programs specific for their stay. In this article we will focus on Health Insurance programs available in Mexico.
What Type of Coverage Do I Need?
There are many Health Insurance providers in Mexico that offer several types of private coverage, and there are many factors to consider when determining your Health Insurance needs in Mexico.
If you are a snowbird, you could select an international coverage which supplements your existing policy from home.
Do you travel extensively? If so, another option is a tailor made policy, designed to fit your specific needs, such as pre-existing conditions or age factors.
Should you plan on living in Mexico full time, an all-inclusive expat policy would be perfect for thorough coverage and access to the finest healthcare options in the country.
Of course, if your needs are basic and you have no existing ailment, the IMSS coverage would be a good option as well.
Whichever option you choose, it is important to understand every detail of your policy. Discuss your needs and expectations with your insurance provider, and ensure that your new policy does not contain any surprises. And make sure your broker is licensed to sell insurance in Mexico!
How Do I Find a Doctor?
There are many well-trained doctors in Mexico, and many of those speak English. Here is a list of things to consider when selecting your doctor…
- What do you need from your doctor? Is a GP sufficient, or do you require specialised treatment?
- Will you require house calls?
- Can you speak Spanish, or do you need your doctor to speak English?
- Ask members of your expat communities for referrals.
- Check with your consulate or embassy for a list of doctors.
- Conduct an on-line search for doctors in your area…many will have reviews and bios.
- Your insurance provider will usually have a list of doctors, and ones that are approved for pre-billing.
- Ask for a referral from your doctor back home.
We will be including a future article here on Hospitals In Mexico, but for today’s purpose Hospiten, Amerimed, and Costamed Medical Group have a list of available doctors and specialists in your area.
Can I Get My Prescriptions Filled Here?
The following is an excerpt from an earlier article from Mexify.biz…
You’ve made the move to Mexico, and you’re really enjoying the lifestyle. Soon, though, you will need to refill your prescription. It’s very costly and very unreliable to ship your prescription meds from home, and, quite possibly, illegal.
Most medicines are available over the counter, and are much less costly. Be warned, though, that not all medicines are held to the same standards. You could easily take the wrong dosage or even receive the wrong active ingredient.
If you didn’t consult with your doctor at home before you moved, here are some tips to follow…
- find a doctor and get local pharmacy recommendations
- choose a well-established pharmacy to obtain higher quality medicines
- discuss your needs with the pharmacist, they will advise on availability of your medicine
- a private health insurance carrier can provide access to facilities, drugs, and insurance billing if required
For more information on the types of Healthcare available in Mexico contact us.
What If I Need Surgery?
Many North Americans travel to Mexico for their surgeries. They combine the medical procedure with a leisure vacation or a house hunting visit. Less wait times and lower costs mean patients can get back to their normal lives much sooner. Many lab tests for services such as ultrasounds, blood work, and even x-rays can be done here in Mexico without a doctors referral.
- Here are some of the most common surgeries…
- Hip and Knee Replacement
- Cosmetic Surgery
- Bariatric (Weight Loss)
Should an accident befall you, and you require emergency surgery, the costs could be staggering! If you are covered by IMSS, you will receive adequate care, but may face additional costs associated with your hospital stay.
Private Health Insurance providers will afford you better care in better facilities, with better specialised doctors. Additional costs in this situation may be direct-billed dependent on the extent of your policy coverage.
Help! I Lost My Teeth and I Can’t Find Them!
I remember driving one time and sensing a sneeze coming on. I rolled my window down just in time to direct that sneeze outside. Unfortunately, my dentures went with it! Fortunately, I had my prescription glasses to help find all the pieces.
A visit to the dentist has a very high probability rate. Whether it’s for a toothache, an extraction, or a simple cleaning, a trip to the dentist will be a regular thing. Or, in my case, an orthodontist.
There are many qualified dentists in Mexico, many of whom include specialized services. Dentures, implants, and braces are familiar words on all the Dental Office shingles.
Everything changes as you age, so after getting the mold for my new dentures, I paid a visit to my optometrist. After a quick consultation, I had my glasses re-fitted with a new prescription lens.
My new glasses helped me sign the form, and with my new teeth smiling brightly, I direct-billed for both to my Health Insurance provider in Mexico!
What If I Need to Evacuate?
Even though Mexico has state-of-the-art hospitals and equipment, there may be an emergency requirement for you to fly home for treatment. In the event of a stroke, heart attack, or any serious life-threatening illness, a Medical Evacuation may be required. You may need to be transported to a specialty hospital, or simply require long-term care closer to family.
Many Health Insurance programs in Mexico can include emergency medical evacuation clauses, but many still are limited in destinations. They may read “nearest adequate facility” which could leave you far from home, family, and your doctors.
Another option you may be offered is a Medical Evacuation Membership or Assitance plan. Be wary of these as the companies offering such plans are not regulated, nor do they follow typical insurance laws. You could find yourself with a denied claim and no recourse.
It is important to note here that commercial airlines will not transport anyone in an emergency medical state. An emergency MedEvac is an expensive undertaking, and costs could easily exceed tens of thousands of dollars.
It is also imperative that you understand your insurance policy’s coverage, that it includes the phrase “…hospital of choice…” and covers all out-of-pocket expenses.
Many expats who live in Mexico, whether as snowbirds or year-round, are in or near retirement age. Although the climate and lifestyle here is beneficial to our health, our bodies tend to develop new aches and pains where the day before there were none. Regardless of your health, the time will come when you need to see a doctor.
If you, like me, have spent anytime in a clinic back home, you are familiar with crowded waiting rooms and long wait times. If you are registered with IMSS here in Mexico you may undergo a similar experience. Although the Emergency Medical Services in Mexico have improved greatly over the last few years, the public hospitals still see a great demand on the efficiency and quality of medical care. And you will be out-of-pocket for many medical expenses.
Private hospitals are less inundated with such a demand, and are able to offer a higher level of efficiency and quality. They have improved facilities and equipment, better trained staff, and increased one-on-one services. Direct-billing to your health insurance provider is a definite plus, as is receiving high quality prescription medicine.
Of course, all these improved services do come at a cost. So, tomorrow, when the new wave of aches and pains arrive, ask your body if it’s worth it…